The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation staff are treating some COVID-19 patients with antibodies.
YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges said that the Bethel hospital has been administering the antibody treatment for a couple weeks after receiving an allocation from the state. “It’s called bamlanivimab. That’s the brand name of it, and it’s a monoclonal antibody,” Hodges explained.
The antibodies are manufactured proteins that mimic the body’s immune system response to fight off the coronavirus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the antibody treatment for emergency use in early November. In clinical trials, the treatment reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits in patients.
The antibody is given to people who have tested positive for coronavirus and have a high risk of developing a severe COVID-19 reaction. Recipients cannot be hospitalized or on oxygen, and must be over 12 years old.
Currently, the outpatient treatment requires monitoring while the procedure is done and is only available at the Bethel hospital, not at village clinics.
“Because it’s an IV infusion and it has to be given in an area where the personnel can respond to a bad allergic reaction, because that’s one of the side effects of that medication,” Hodges said.
Other side effects include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, itching, and vomiting.