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Latest COVID-19 treatment available in Nebraska City starting tomorrow

Julie Rach
Nebraska City News-Press

Starting tomorrow (Nov. 20), CHI Health St. Mary’s will be one of seven sites across Nebraska that will be able to provide Bamlanivimab, an antibody drug that received emergency use authorization from the FDA to help treat COVID-19.

CHI Health Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services Dave Schmidt participated in a media call on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the new treatment further.

He said that patients who will receive Bamlanivimab will need to have a positive COVID-19 test, a primary care provider referral, and a condition that makes them high risks for hospitalization, such as diabetes, chronic kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or high blood pressure.

Bamlanivimab is given as a single-dose 700 mg infusion that takes an hour, said Schmidt. Patients are monitored for an hour after the infusion for side effects.

The new treatment, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 9, is not recommended for use in a hospital setting, said Schmidt.

Bamlanivimab offers similar virus-fighting capabilities as a convalescent plasma treatment, said Schmidt.

Both treatments are neutralizing antibodies that prevent the COVID-19 virus from gaining access to a patient’s host cells, he said, which gives a patient’s immune system the opportunity to react and combat the virus.

Patients receiving Bamlanivimab have their symptoms clear up about two days faster than patients who do not receive the treatment, said Schmidt.

COVID-19 treatments have gone from a few treatments “with mixed messages to a lot of clinical trials going on to now having more of that clinical data available to us to help guide decision making,” said Schmidt.

“It’s definitely reassuring, I think, to providers to have proven therapeutic options to offer to patients and it’s definitely trending in the right direction,” he said.

CHI Health received its supply from the federal government, which was then allocated by DHHS.

The 14-hospital system has supply for 344 infusions across its Nebraska hospital locations and 39 doses for patients in Iowa. Critical access hospitals like CHI Health St. Mary's will also have access to this supply.

Schmidt said additional doses are expected in Nebraska in the coming weeks, with drug manufacturer Eli Lilly guaranteeing 300,000 doses to the U.S. government between now and the end of the calendar year.