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Steamboat Magazine

UCHealth Begins Treating Patients With New Antibody Drug Aimed at Keeping High-Risk People With COVID-19 Out of the Hospital

12/08/2020 12:29PM ● By UCHealth

Photo courtesy of UCHealth

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – UCHealth has received a limited supply of a new experimental COVID-19 drug that may lessen the severity of illness in high-risk people, keeping them out of the hospital. 

UCHealth was allocated nearly 650 doses of the drug – called bamlanivimab – for use at four of its locations across Colorado. The treatment is available at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora and Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs. 

Supplies of the medication – which is in high demand across the nation – are extremely limited. Allocations were made to states based on population and COVID-19 cases. 

Bamlanivimab is a potential treatment option for people with a COVID-19 diagnosis who have had mild to moderate symptoms for 10 days or less and who are deemed to be at high risk of becoming very sick from the virus, including the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or chronic kidney disease. It’s also an option for certain pediatric patients over the age of 12. 

The treatment option comes at a time Colorado is experiencing record hospitalizations for COVID-19. “This antibody treatment is still being studied, and there’s a lot that remains unknown about its effectiveness,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director for infection prevention at UCHealth. “If we can lessen the severity of illness and keep people out of the hospital, those are beds we can use for other patients with more acute needs.” 

The treatment is not authorized for patients who are already hospitalized with COVID-19 or who require oxygen therapy due to the virus. Physicians can recommend patients to be considered to receive the drug, and high-risk patients with a COVID-19 diagnosis are chosen via a random allocation process aimed at ensuring those who qualify receive an equal chance of receiving the medication. 

“Given that there are many, many people with COVID-19 who would qualify for this medication, I wish it could be offered to everyone. This is a time where we wish there was more available for every person who qualifies under U.S. Food and Drug Administration criteria,” Barron said. 

Bamlanivimab received emergency use authorization from the FDA last month. It is a monoclonal antibody that scientists hope will lower the viral load and give an infected person’s 

immune system time to make its own antibodies. People chosen for the antibody treatment will receive it one time, via intravenous infusion. 

About UCHealth 

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth includes 25,000 employees, 12 acute-care, full-service hospitals including UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Offering more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.