UPMC leaders announced today at a press briefing new research showing the impact of monoclonal antibodies on their patients with COVID-19.
To date, more than 1,000 patients with COVID-19 have received monoclonal antibodies to UPMC, and data show that treatment has reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 70% compared to patients who met the conditions for treatment, but for various reasons they did not receive.
The findings are currently available on the medRxiv overprint medical server, and the research team will soon continue with a peer-reviewed publication.
“Monoclonal antibodies are copies of antibodies that look for the COVID-19 virus in your body and prevent it from infecting cells and multiplying,” said co-author Dr. Erin McCreary, a UPMC pharmacist for infectious diseases and a clinical assistant professor in the University’s Department of Infectious Diseases. Pittsburgh. “We basically give your immune system a leg up on the virus before it gets caught and destroyed.”
Three monoclonal antibody treatments currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are given as a single IV infusion. They are used for patients at high risk of severe complications of COVID-19, including those over 65 years of age or older, or younger people with risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or lung or kidney disease.
The UPMC estimates that approximately one-third of patients with COVID-19 would qualify to receive monoclonal antibodies. For the therapy to work, it must be given within 10 days of a positive test result or initial symptoms, and patients do not have to be extremely ill to see the benefits.
“Too many times we have seen people with those who thought the mild COVID-19 had gone uphill quickly the first week and ended up in our ICUs. Don’t let it be you or a loved one, ”said Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC chief physician and chairman of emergency medicine. “If you get COVID-19, ask for monoclonal antibodies. It could just save your life. “
According to Yealy, UPMC is one of the providers in the state offering monoclonal antibodies after investing in the infrastructure, staff and processes needed to manage them in a coordinated and equitable manner.
“People can be nervous about this treatment. Like all drugs, there is a risk, but the response rate was very low in our patients, ”McCreary said. “As a pharmacist, I would advise most patients to get it if they meet the conditions. The risk of complications of COVID-19 is far higher and much, much worse than the risk of drug reaction. “
The drug for monoclonal antibodies is free, and for members of the UPMC health plan, all other fees are waived. UPMC offers infusions at 16 locations across Pennsylvania and in New York City. For patients who are home-bound or do not have transportation, UPMC can make an infusion at home.
Visit upmc.com/antibodytreatment or call 866-804-5251 for more information on monoclonal antibodies.