Hospital systems in Northern Colorado have stepped up access to monoclonal antibody treatments to treat COVID-19 if patients fall into high-risk categories. The treatments are meant to lessen the severity of the disease and prevent hospitalization.
UCHealth has added a special treatment center at Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland to administer the treatment. According to information provided by UCHealth, to qualify, patients must have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have mild symptoms, be at high risk for getting a severe infection, are not yet hospitalized and have symptoms that started in the past 10 days. High-risk patients are those who are 65 years old or older, pregnant women, those who are obese or overweight and people with certain underlying medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, mental health conditions, lung, kidney or liver diseases, and more.
Banner Health also has increased access to monoclonal antibody treatments. It uses Casirivimab/indevimab from Regeneron and infuses the medication directly into a vein.
The Outpatient Infusion Center at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley coordinates the treatments but they can be administered at Banner locations in Greeley, Loveland or Fort Collins. Referrals from a physician are required.
Antibodies are proteins that exist in the body as part of the immune system to recognize and defend against viruses and bacteria. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a laboratory and designed to target a specific virus or bacteria. Monoclonal antibodies against COVID-19 attach to the virus to block it from entering human cells. The monoclonal antibody protein also “marks” the virus to be broken down by the immune system and cleared from the body.
“Not only is monoclonal antibody therapy helping to keep at-risk populations from getting so sick they need to be hospitalized, it has been saving lives,” Dr. Bill Neff, chief medical officer of UCHealth’s Northern Colorado region, said in a written statement. “The key factor is getting diagnosed early and being able to get in to be treated quickly.”
“It’s important to note, though, that monoclonal antibody therapy is not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19,” Neff said. “Getting vaccinated is still the best way to keep from getting sick with COVID-19.”
Banner in its announcement of stepped-up services said that individuals would not be eligible for this treatment if they are already hospitalized for COVID-19, requiring oxygen therapy, or if they are allergic to any of the ingredients.
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