Expert Health Articles

COVID-19 Treatment with Bamlanivimab

“You’re getting the presidential treatment,” I told my professor friend who had COVID19.  He was one of the first in this area to receive bamlanivimab, another weapon in our fight against COVID.  


You may have heard that former president Trump received an investigational antibody treatment when he had COVID.  Ben Carson also did. Carson said, “I am convinced [the antibody treatment] saved my life.”  The medication these men received was an IV infusion of antibodies that act specifically against COVID19. 


On November 9, 2020, the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for bamlanivimab, a similar antibody treatment for COVID19.  It appears that this medication significantly decreases the risk of severe disease from COVID19 if it is given early in the course of the illness.  


Add bamlanivimab to the arsenal along with hand hygiene, masks, social distancing and vaccines!


Blanchard Valley Health System was able to start treating patients with the monoclonal antibody the Monday after Thanksgiving, and to date, more than 150 local patients have received this treatment.  In my practice, it has been very helpful and has been well-tolerated.  


We’ve known from very early in the pandemic that the people who fare the worst with COVID19 infections are those over sixty-five years old and people with chronic conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease and obesity and lung problems.  For people in those groups, the risk of severe disease, with hospitalization, long term effects, and sometimes death, is much higher than for the population as a whole.  These are the people who qualify for treatment with bamlanivimab.


The biggest concern with this medication is an immediate reaction, similar to an allergic reaction. 
For this reason, the drug is given in the hospital, and patients are monitored in the hospital for an hour or more after the infusion.  


Again, bamlanivimab works best when given early.  It is not recommended for patients with COVID19 who are hospitalized or whose oxygen levels have dropped significantly or who have had COVID19 symptoms for more than ten days.  


I consider this to be a great option for high-risk people who get COVID19.  It is wonderful to have something I can recommend that can prevent some of the suffering associated with COVID19.  It is important that people are aware that this treatment is available and that they act early if they have symptoms that suggest COVID19 infection.  


If you are one of those who are at high risk for severe COVID19 infection, remember to reach out to your primary care provider early on to discuss your symptoms and get tested.  If you have a family member or friend who falls into that category, pass the word on to them also.


Let’s work together and use all the tools available to fight this infection!

 

Dr. Leah Eiden

Family Medicine

Bluffton Primary Care