New Treatment for High-Risk COVID-19 Patients

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By News Team on February 26, 2021

A new treatment available at Carilion Clinic offers patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, and who are at high risk for severe sickness, a chance to recover from the infection without the need for Emergency Department visits or hospital stays.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization to monoclonal antibody treatment for coronavirus November 2020, and Carilion Clinic began offering it in December at outpatient infusion sites to patients referred by their primary care provider

“This is the first time we’ve had a proactive treatment for high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms,” said Dorothy Garner, M.D., Carilion's interim chief of Infectious Diseases. “Prior to this, the only available treatments for COVID-19 patients were for the sickest of the sick."

Unlike convalescent plasma treatment, which has been shown to be effective in the inpatient, acute-care setting but not proactively, monoclonal antibodies are most effective in battling early symptoms.

"Monoclonal antibodies give us the opportunity to treat the most vulnerable early in the virus progression, keeping patients out of the hospital in the first place,” said Dr. Garner.

The one-time infusion of antibodies is for high-risk patients who have received a positive COVID-19 test result (antigen or PCR), have mild to moderate symptoms of less than or equal to 10 days duration.

“For monoclonal antibodies to be effective, it’s critical that high-risk patients get tested early for COVID-19,” said Dr. Garner. “Once you develop symptoms, there’s a 3- to 5-day window in which the treatment will be most effective.”

Talk with your doctor if you are at elevated risk and test positive for coronavirus so you may be considered for the treatment if you begin to experience symptoms. Patients are considered to be at elevated risk for severe sickness if they:

  • Are 65+
  • Are 55+ with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory diseases
  • Have a BMI of 35 and above
  • Have chronic kidney disease or diabetes
  • Have immunosuppressive disease or are receiving immunosuppressive treatment

To learn more about the monoclonal antibody treatments currently available at Carilion Clinic, review the fact sheets below:

And remember that prevention is always preferred. Keep social distancing, keep wearing your mask, keep washing your hands and be sure to register on the Virginia Department of Health's website, vaccinate.Virginia.gov, to receive your vaccine at the earliest opportunity. 

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