More widespread COVID monoclonal antibody treatment offered

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Monoclonal antibody therapy. (ABC News photo)

The Department of Public Health and Social Services has started more widespread use of the monoclonal antibody treatment in response to the rise in cases of COVID-19 on the island.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses.

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DPHSS director Art San Agustin said that the Guam Memorial Hospital is already administering the monoclonal treatment as well as Guam Regional Medical City. He said private clinics will also follow soon.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also gearing up to send a team of 20 to help stand up more monoclonal antibody therapy treatment centers on island.

“We’re looking at having a public health site for this treatment as an option. We are focusing our efforts to stand up this treatment to lessen the number of hospitalizations,” San Agustin said.

The number of hospitalizations on Guam has been increasing, reaching 51 last Friday. This has resulted in GMH erecting medical tents to supplement its hospital beds.

The monoclonal antibody treatment is available for those who test positive and are deemed eligible and referred by a provider.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic your immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses. Casirivimab + imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies that are specifically designed to protect against the spike protein of the coronavirus. These proteins are designed to stop the virus from entering the human cells and may prevent hospitalizations by 70%.

In November 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization to allow the use of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients.

To receive the treatment, you must have a positive COVID-19 test AND be referred by your doctor. Referrals may be given if the candidate is:

= Age 65 or older and weigh at least 80 lbs. or more; or
= Told by your doctor that you are at high risk of a serious case of COVID-19; or
= Age 12 or older and weigh at least 80 lbs. or more AND has any of the following: chronic kidney disease, heart or lung disease, BMI of 25 or greater, pregnancy, diabetes, and immunosuppressive disease.

According to DPHSS, monoclonal antibody treatment is not intended as a replacement for getting vaccinated and these medications are not approved for use in patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy. Benefits of treatment have not been observed in patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 and monoclonal antibodies may be associated with even worse clinical outcomes when given to patients with COVID-19 requiring oxygen ventilation.

The ways to receive mAb are the following:

  1. Via the Tiyan testing site. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are deemed eligible, a referral will be made on-site and you may proceed to treatment; and

  2. Via your private doctor. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are deemed eligible, your doctor will coordinate for your referral to receive treatment.

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