New treatment for high-risk COVID-19 patients available in Alaska

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:58 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A treatment recently given emergency use authorization in the United States for COVID-19 is now available in Alaska.

The Department of Health and Social Services announced the treatment for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms that could cause them to be hospitalized. Patients must be referred by a physician for treatment.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave EUA for monoclonal antibody treatments for certain eligible patients. According to the FDA, monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a lab that help the immune system fight off the virus. They are given through intravenous infusion and treatment takes about three hours.

The treatments are bamlanivimab by Eli Lilly and casirivimab/imdevimab by Regeneron.

They will be available at a state-run infusion center as well as certain health care and skilled nursing facilities. The state-run infusion center is set up at the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. Initially, it will be open by appointment only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and will be able to treat about 15 people a day.

“DHSS has been able to stand this infusion center up within a very tight timeframe to be able to offer these treatments as quickly as possible to Alaskans who are positive and at highest risk for hospitalization,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy in a release from DHSS. “Between these new treatments and vaccines coming soon to Alaska, there is great hope on the horizon. The end of this pandemic is in sight, but we still need to remain vigilant to continue to protect Alaskans and save lives.”

To qualify for referral a patient must be at least 12 years old, have COVID-19, be within 10 days of their first symptoms and be high risk for needing hospitalization.

Patients that qualify as high risk could have a body mass index greater than 35, have kidney disease, have diabetes, have an immunosuppressive disease, are 65 or older, or are 55 or older with cardiovascular disease or hypertension or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other chronic respiratory diseases.

If you think you are eligible for the monoclonal antibody treatment the state suggests you contact your health care provider.

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