Antibody treatments give Hawaii doctors another tool to fight severe COVID illness

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Medical professionals believe monoclonal antibody treatments are another tool to help avoid health complications from COVID.

They also believe that they can help reduce the number of people inside hospitals.

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Hospitals are working to expand access to monoclonal antibody treatments. The ER tent outside of the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua location is being used for the antibody treatment. The hospital’s director of clinic operations on Oahu, Dionicia Lagapa, said a second site will open at the island’s west facility.

“It’s all about prevention, getting vaccinated, safe social distancing and wearing your mask,” Lagapa said. “But in the event that patients end up positive, this is a very promising treatment that we have right now to prevent hospitalizations. And we need to prevent people from getting into the hospital.”

It is a one-time treatment, either through IV or a short needle injection just under the skin.

The main drug in use is Regeneron’s dual-antibody cocktail, which has been purchased in mass quantities by the U.S. government. It’s the same drug former President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalized with COVID-19 last October.

The State’s epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Kemble, said monoclonal antibody treatments are for those who have tested positive for the virus.

Kemble said, “There is good data that monoclonal antibodies can reduce your risk of hospitalization after you have been infected with COVID-19.”

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said it is aware of 12 sites across the state providing the treatment.

Hawaii Pacific Health facilities have treated 300 patients with monoclonal antibodies since November 2020, and 200 of those treatments have taken place since late July 2021.

“We have seen our demand dramatically increase, since August maybe we have bumped up almost 500%, 1000% from what we were doing initially,” Hawaii Pacific Health’s Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Douglas Kwock said. “We are ramping up our capacity to meet the increased demand.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID illness in adults and children 12 and up to keep high-risk patients out of hospitals.

Doctors said treatment should be given early; within five days from testing positive for the virus.

Kwock said, “Those of elder age, those that are overweight, those with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, those types of medical conditions that might leave an individual at higher risk to progress for more severe infection.”

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