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Monoclonal antibody treatment that can help COVID-19 patients who are at risk of getting very sick are now available at Cayuga Medical Center, Cortland Convenient Care, and Schuyler Hospital.
“Monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19 are an important part of the arsenal for patients who have mild or moderate symptoms with high risk of progression to severe disease,” says Andreia de Lima MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Cayuga Health/Cayuga Medical Center.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in our community continues to increase, hand hygiene, social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccination remain our first line of defense against the virus, and monoclonal antibody therapy improves patient outcomes, she says.
Monoclonal antibodies had limited use in the U.S. since last fall and have shown their effectiveness in reducing hospitalizations and deaths when given to patients soon after symptoms appear. There is also evidence the medicine may prevent the disease in some people exposed to the virus. Monoclonal antibody treatment has grown since July when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency approval for it as a prophylactic medication for high risk unvaccinated or partially vaccinated patients exposed to the virus. The FDA says the treatment is effective within 10 days after symptoms appear, which is why people should seek treatment as soon as they receive a positive test result.
Patients receive antibody treatments at Cayuga Health by intravenous infusion on an outpatient basis. The medication and administration fees are free to most patients, but patients with some types of private insurance may have a co-pay for the administration fee. Patients need an observation period after receiving the medication, and the whole process from intake to discharge may take 4-5 hours.
Patients who may be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment should contact their primary care physicians to be evaluated for the medication. Treatment appointments are at these locations and starting times:
- Cayuga Medical Center-Emergency Department. Daily. Appointments start at 6 a.m.
- Cortland Convenient Care, Daily. Appointments start at 8 a.m.
- Cayuga Medical Center–3rd Floor (Kids’ Care area). Weekdays. Appointments start at 1 p.m.
Patients going to Schuyler Hospital should (607) 535-7121 to obtain information for monoclonal antibody treatment.
The antibodies mimic the body’s own immune response to the coronavirus and begin fighting the virus while the natural response is gearing up. Unlike coronavirus vaccines, which take as long as six weeks to provide full protection, the antibody treatments have a more immediate effect on patients who are already sick.
Cayuga Health is providing the therapy with casirivimab-indevimab, with the brand name REGEN-COV developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a New York based biotechnology company. Former President Donald Trump recovered from a COVID-19 infection last October after receiving the Regeneron medication, before the treatment was available to the public.
Dr. de Lima says casirivimab-indevimab is used for treating mild/moderate cases of COVID-19 in patients 12 or older weighing at least 88 lbs. and with conditions that predict high risk for progression of disease, including, but not limited to:
- Age, 65 and older
- Overweight or obesity
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
- Cardiovascular disease or hypertension
- Chronic lung diseases (including COPD, asthma, ILD, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension)
- Sickle cell disease
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Having a medical-related technological dependence (for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation unrelated to COVID-19
The monoclonal antibody treatment is used to prevent COVID in patients who are:
- Not fully vaccinated or who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to a COVID-19 vaccination
- Exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2
- Living or working in an institution such as a nursing home where others have COVID-19 infections.