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Aspirus Sees Success in Treating Patients with Experimental COVID-19 Antibody Drug


Vaccines are a key part in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there are many other factors than can play into it.

Social distancing and mask wearing to prevent the spread and mutation of the virus will help.

A successful treatment for the disease will also be a major factor.

Aspirus is crediting an COVID-19 antibody treatment with preventing dozens of hospitalizations due to the virus.

It recently treated its 300th patient with the drug. Of the 300 people treated at Aspirus with an experimental COVID-19 antibody treatment only four percent later needed hospitalization.

The treatment is an infusion therapy using a drug called Bamlanivimab.

Similar to the vaccines available, this drug has gotten emergency use authorization.

Dr. Renee Smith is the Medical Branch Director of the Aspirus System Emergency Center as it relates to COVID. She says this drug made a big difference when the number of hospitalizations were surging in the winter.

“What we were able to do with this treatment is bring patients in, receive the treatment, and prevent hospitalizations. And really that allowed us to make sure we had resources available for our communities,” said Dr. Smith.

Aspirus estimates the drug prevented 48 people with COVID-19 from needing hospitalization. Dr. Smith finds those results encouraging.

“The statistics show that if patients enter the hospital due to COVID, 20% of them will go onto die because the disease state. I really think by preventing hospitalizations, this medication has in turn has prevented death and we really have been able to save lives with the treatment as well,” said Dr. Smith.

The treatment isn’t for everyone.

The goal is to fight off the virus early in the infection for those that are most vulnerable.

Some of the people eligible include those 65 and older, are considered obese, or have a chronic illness like diabetes or kidney disease.

“I’m feeling really good about the success that we’re seeing from this treatment. I think that it really has, from what Aspirus has experienced, done what it’s intended to do which is lessen the complications from COVID,” said Dr. Smith.

If you’re experiencing a case of COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms and fall into the eligible category, Dr. Smith encourages people to reach out to the health care provider about this possible treatment option.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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