Bayhealth is using new and innovative treatments to help in the fight against COVID-19.
The latest tool is a limited supply of Food and Drug Administration-approved monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), the therapeutic agents designed to treat COVID-19 in high-risk patients. This treatment was authorized for emergency use by the FDA and has been distributed through the government to healthcare systems like Bayhealth.
These synthetically created antibodies mimic the action of natural antibodies in fighting viruses. While not a cure for COVID-19, mAb infusions, when administered early after symptoms appear, have been found to be effective in shortening the length of illness and preventing potential hospitalization for those infected.
Bayhealth Vice President of Quality and Medical Affairs John Fink, MD, said that through its mAb infusion clinic, Bayhealth is administering the treatment to community members referred by their healthcare provider who need it most in order to avoid severe COVID complications. “This is another tool in our toolbox to fight COVID-19 and it’s the only specific treatment for patients outside the hospital,” said Fink.
There are strict criteria around use of the mAb treatment based on FDA guidelines. A referral from a primary care physician or ordering provider is necessary. It’s intended for those who have never been hospitalized for COVID-19 but have tested positive and develop symptoms. Patients must be age 65 and older, or under 65 with serious medical conditions. The treatment needs to be administered within the first 10 days of symptom onset, and ideally even sooner to have the most benefit.
“Our bodies can’t always make antibodies fast enough when we get sick, so if we catch someone in the early part of their COVID-19 illness, an infusion of mAbs can help their body fight the infection more rapidly and efficiently,” said Fink. He emphasized that because there is a small window of time for administering the treatment, people in high-risk categories with positive COVID-19 test results should contact their doctor as soon as symptoms develop to learn if they may be candidates to receive this.
“Although our capacity is limited, we’ll continue offering the mAb infusions to as many people as we can who meet the criteria,” said Fink. “Bayhealth is always driven to better the health of our communities, and during this is pandemic, this is another way we are helping to battle COVID locally.”