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Doctors at Bolivar, Mo. hospital using new combo antibody treatment for patients with COVID-19

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 11:33 AM CDT
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BOLIVAR, Mo. (KY3) - Health care providers in the Ozarks want to ensure they provide adequate treatment for COVID-19-stricken patients, especially with the newer strains.

At Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, doctors have treated more than 350 patients since November with an antibody infusion. They believe the IV infusion helped keep many high risk COVID-19 positive patients out of the hospital. Patients all received the drug Bamlanivimab.

“If we had not been able to prevent some of the admissions, we believe these antibodies allowed us to prevent, our hospital would not have been able to sustain our surgery volumes or have issues with patients having access to a bed even in the height of the pandemic,”said Mariah Hollabaugh, CMH System Director of Pharmacy.

At the peak of the pandemic, doctors averaged about 10 infusions a day and even set up a specialized infusion center. The hospital no longer has that center. However, the last seven COVID-19 positive patients have received a combo treatment with two drugs, Bamblanivimab and Etesevimab.

CMH began offering the combination treatment in March. Health experts say the first drug alone may not combat the newer mutations in the virus.

“The two drugs in combination basically give antibodies to two different images, or versions, of the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus itself so that, if you have one of those variant strains with one of those mutations, you can develop the antibodies to that strain as well,” said Hollabaugh.

The hospital staff is trying to keep enough of the new drug Etesevimab on hand to treat five-to-ten patients. The staff has a good supply of Bamlanivimab. They have not yet treated anyone with one of the newer virus strains, but will be prepared in the event of a new surge.

In Springfield, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and CoxHealth are using or plan to use the new combo treatment. Cox says it started out treating healthcare workers with the infusion, but has been treating others who meet the criteria most of this year. The ER, urgent cares, or a patient’s doctor can refer them for the treatment.

Dr. Robin Trotman, Cox Health director of infection prevention, says, “We pivoted to using combination therapy before it was actually, the changes were made from the NIH.”

But where they were once offering antibody infusions to 10 to 20 high risk covid patients a week, it’s now single digits.

“So now we’re not treating many people because a lot of those people at risk for bad outcomes have actually been vaccinated now, and we’re not seeing those people get sick as often,” Trotman says.

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