The use of monoclonal antibody treatments to treat cases of COVID-19 has been successful in 100 percent of the Virgin Islands patients who have received it, according to a news release from the V.I. Department of Health.
“Since we have been infusing patients who meet criteria for monoclonal antibody treatment, we have had a 100 percent success at preventing progression of symptoms,” said Dr. Tai Hunte-Ceasar, infectious diseases specialist and health care branch lead for the COVID-19 Pandemic Response. “All the patients report a dramatic improvement in symptoms within 24 to 48 hours. This is a tremendous resource that is available to prevent severe disease in our vulnerable populations.”
The Food and Drug Administration in November authorized the emergency use of monoclonal antibody treatments – Bamlanivimab, Casirivimab and Imdevimab – that are designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells. These antibodies neutralize the virus and can potentially treat patients with COVID-19. The antibodies were identified from blood samples taken from some of the first patients who recovered from COVID-19 in the United States.
The treatments are most suitable for treating mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and in pediatric patients aged 12 and older weighing at least 88 pounds, who are at high risk for progressing to more severe illness or hospitalization.
To be considered high-risk, patients must meet at least one of the following criteria:
– Being significantly obese.
– Have chronic kidney disease.
– Have diabetes.
– Have immunosuppressive disease.
– Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment.
– Are 65 or older.
– Are 55 or older and have cardiovascular disease or another respiratory disease.
– Are 12-17 and have a heart, lung or neurological condition or being significantly obese or overweight.
The treatments are not appropriate for everyone and have not been authorized for use in patients:
– Who are hospitalized due to COVID-19.
– Who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19.
– Who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in those on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19 related morbidity.
Positive COVID-19 test results in the territory reached 2,524 on Friday, an increase of 19 since Thursday, and the number of active cases increased from 84 to 101, the Department of Health said on its website.
The department said anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should contact their health care provider immediately to determine if they qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment. The impact is seen if treatment is utilized before symptoms become too severe. Benefits have not been observed in patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, and may be associated with worse clinical outcomes when administered to hospitalized patients with COVID-19 requiring high flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation, the news release said.
“It is critical that if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or if you are sick, that you report your symptoms or your exposure to the Department of Health by calling the Epidemiology hotline at 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519. If you have been confirmed COVID-19 positive and are not well, seeking care is crucial to reducing the risk of serious illness and preventing death. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911,” the news release said.
DOH Public Relations Director Jahnesta Ritter added, “We should all still be practicing social distancing, washing our hands frequently with soap and warm water and wearing a mask. Those basic preventive measures are effective, but the COVID-19 vaccines are our strongest weapon against the virus.”
Virgin Islanders can find out if they are eligible to receive the vaccine by visiting the DOH website.
They can schedule their first dose by calling 340-777-8227 (340-777-VACS).