A new COVID treatment has shown promising results for some patients in central Illinois.
OSF Healthcare has given the antibody Bamlanivimab, or "Bam" for short, to about 600 patients who have shown COVID-19 symptoms since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its emergency use last fall.
Dr. Brian Curtis, OSF vice president of clinical specialty services, said about 5% of those mostly senior and other high-risk patients ended up in the hospital.
“We anticipated from the data that for every 10 patients that we would treat, we would prevent one admission. We anticipate that we would prevent 60 admissions throughout the system, which really kind of supports the data,” Curtis said.
He noted hospital admission rates for COVID patients over age 65 is close to 13% and it rises to 15% for people who are 75 and older.
“Having a more serious COVID infection increases mortality risk. We know that,” Curtis said. “Any hospitalization we can prevent actually opens up a bed for somebody else that may or may not have COVID.”
Curtis added COVID patients tend to have longer hospitals stays, so keeping them out of the hospital is especially critical.
“Any little bit helps,” he said.
Hospital capacity in Bloomington-Normal has improved in the last week, but McLean County's total of COVID-related hospitalizations is at an all-time high.
Bam, a one-time intravenous infusion, is still only available to a limited number of patients--adults over age 65 or someone with other risk factors, such as chronic kidney disease or immunosuppressive disease. It is given only to COVID-positive patients, and must be given within 10 days of patients showing symptoms.
Curtis said he doesn’t anticipate the treatment will be expanded, noting that patients who had to be hospitalized and had received the infusion had worse outcomes than those who didn’t.
Curtis acknowledged the sample size of people who have received Bam remains small, so it’s hard to come to definitive conclusions, but he said until there’s widespread distribution of COVID vaccines, health care workers will use every available option.
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