Virtua Offers Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID-19
NOTE: This is a news release from January 2021. The information it contains may no longer be accurate or timely.
January 5, 2021 - Virtua Health is providing a leading-edge treatment for coronavirus, known as monoclonal antibodies. The medication, called bamlanivimab, helps non-hospitalized, high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.
In recent days, both The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that many “overburdened hospitals” are not offering the treatment due to logistical challenges, but Virtua has provided this vital service to nearly 100 individuals since early December 2020.
“We’re very proud to be among the first in our region to offer this exciting new therapy,” said Dr. John Matsinger, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Virtua Health, South Jersey’s largest health system.
“Early studies suggest that bamlanivimab may resolve symptoms more quickly and possibly reduce progression of disease and associated hospitalizations. Further studies are ongoing regarding its use and effectiveness, but we are glad to have this treatment option as part of our larger toolkit for caring for those with COVID-19.”
Key facts about the treatment:
- Bamlanivimab is a medicine that has emergency use authorization by the FDA. As such, it has very restrictive criteria as to who can receive the medicine. The New Jersey Department of Health provided doses to Virtua, and Virtua has been infusing patients since early December 2020.
- Those eligible for bamlanivimab include people who are not hospitalized and have mild to moderate COVID-19, plus one or more risk factors such as BMI (body mass index) of 35 or higher, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment, age 65 or older, or age 55 or older with certain chronic conditions.
Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s response. Bamlanivimab is specifically designed to block the new coronavirus’s entry into human cells.
- It is necessary to treat those early in their infection with this medication — within two to three days of developing symptoms for it to have its greatest impact and effectiveness.
NOTE TO THE PUBLIC: Monoclonal antibody treatment (Bamlanivimab) is available to people who meet certain medical requirements. To qualify, the person must have mild to moderate COVID-19 and not be hospitalized. They must also be age 65 or older, or have certain serious, pre-existing conditions. If you think you may be eligible for this treatment, please contact your health care provider directly for more information.