UCHealth has received a limited supply of a new experimental COVID-19 drug called Bamlanivimab that aims to lessen the severity of illness in high-risk people and keep them out of the hospital.
Roughly 650 doses of Bamlanivimab were allocated to UCHealth based on population and COVID-19 cases for use at four locations statewide. Supplies of the medication are minimal as demand across the nation is high.
“This antibody treatment is still being studied, and there’s a lot that remains unknown about its effectiveness,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director for infection prevention at UCHealth. “If we can lessen the severity of illness and keep people out of the hospital, those are beds we can use for other patients with more acute needs,” Michelle said.
Outpatient treatment is also available at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, and Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs. Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins started using the drug on Tuesday, December 1.
Bamlanivimab is a potential treatment option for those diagnosed with COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms for 10 days or less who are also deemed to be at high risk of becoming very ill from the virus. This includes the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions from diabetes to chronic kidney disease and even certain pediatric patients over 12.
The treatment is not authorized for patients who are already hospitalized with COVID-19 or who need oxygen therapy due to the virus. The first person to receive the drug at Poudre Valley Hospital was Lindsey Junglas of Severance.
Lindsey began experiencing nasal congestion on Tuesday, November 24, and five days later woke up with a dry cough. After receiving a positive test for COVID-19, symptoms began to progress quickly.
At UCHealth Primary Care – Timnath, Lindsey’s doctor determined she was eligible to be entered into the lottery system that randomly selects patients to receive the drug due to a history of asthma and other underlying health conditions. Lindsey received a dose of Bamlanivimab the following day, exactly one week after she began experiencing symptoms.
“There is nothing scarier than seeing that ‘COVID detected’ test result come back – especially if you have underlying issues,” said Lindsey. “My congestion has improved dramatically, and my cough loosened up so I can get stuff out of my lungs,” Lindsey said.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of Bamlanivimab last month. Scientists hope it will lower the viral load and give an infected individual’s immune system time to make antibodies. Those who are chosen for the antibody treatment will receive it one time through an outpatient intravenous infusion.
“The interesting thing about this one is that it aims to help patients who are coping with this disease from home,” said Andrew Harmon, UCHealth’s interim director of pharmacy services in Northern Colorado. “The whole goal is to keep them out of the hospital,” Andrew said.
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