Antibody infusions help COVID patients stay out of the hospital

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There’s been so much focus on the COVID-19 vaccine but you may be wondering where doctors stand with treatments? Researchers say there are new treatments showing real promise.

When it comes to treating COVID-19, by now most of us have heard of Remdesivir, the antiviral drug given to former President Donald Trump and used to treat hospitalized patients. But what many may not know is there’s another successful treatment, available right now, for those who have underlying conditions.

“What we like to do is prevent you from having come into hospital,” said Doctor Bill Petri, a Professor of Infectious Disease at The University of Virginia.

Petri said antibody infusions are doing just that. “So, these antibodies are infused into a vein for someone that has COVID-19 that is not severe enough to have them come into a hospital.”

These monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron and Eli Lilly are extra immune soldiers proven to fight COVID-19 in its early stages. The therapy has been set aside for those at a greater risk of a severe outcome from the virus, diabetes, heart disease and who are pregnant.

Regeneron is one of the antibody infusions.

Petri said an infusion takes about an hour and thanks to federal funding it’s available to many.

“It is important to have treatments as well as vaccines. This isn’t an either-or, it is an and,” said Doctor Cameron Durrant, CEO of the biotech Humanigen.

As far as other treatments, Dr. Durrant said Remdesivir has been shown to shorten a patient’s hospital stay. UVA researchers were part of the Remdesivir trials. If the drug doesn’t work on its own, steroids are then added. He said, “Steroids have been shown to improve mortality and survival in certain patient groups.”

Meantime, Durrant and his team at Humanigen have just completed a phase three trial for another monoclonal antibody called Lenzilumab or Lenz.

They found good results if given with Remdesivir and steroids. “We showed a 54% increase in the likelihood of survival without needing a ventilator,” said Durrant. The company will seek FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

Back at UVA, Dr. Petri is starting a new trial that would treat hospitalized patients with an anti-inflammatory asthma drug. He hopes to enroll patients next month.

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