The Department of Health announced that it will soon receive the drug Bamlanivimab, which will become an alternative for those patients with positive Covid-19 results without criteria for hospitalization, but at risk of developing severe disease.
The treatment was licensed for emergency use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It consists of a monoclonal antibody that is administered intravenously to a patient with confirmed Covid-19.
To be effective, it must be administered within the first 10 days of diagnosis. It is an outpatient process and will be free of charge for the patient.
“We have a lot of hope with the Bamlanivimab. When this antibody is administered, the patient receives a type of passive immunity that neutralizes the coronavirus and that could prevent their health from deteriorating and having to go to hospital. This is the good news, ”said the Undersecretary of Health, Iris Cardona.
In Puerto Rico, the Department of Health will supervise the allocation of the drug and coordinate its distribution.
Generally speaking, the percentage of the total number of confirmed Covid-19 patients and the total number of confirmed hospitalized patients, during a seven-day reporting period, will equal the percentage of Bamlanivimab available for a given week of distribution. For Puerto Rico, 640 vials of one dose each have been separated for the first week.
According to Cardona, the drug can be used in patients 12 years of age and older, who reach a weight of 88 pounds or more. The patient should not be seriously ill, nor should he need oxygen. Neither should it present conditions or criteria for hospitalization.
“With Bamlanivimab we can prevent a Covid-positive patient, who is not very bad but who has certain risk criteria, from getting complicated and having to be hospitalized. The important thing is to identify the risk factors of these patients to administer the medication before it becomes serious so that it does not reach the hospital. This to a great extent will help us to decongest hospitals because the patient is treated in a preventive manner ”, explained the public official.
According to studies, the monoclonal antibody could also benefit patients 65 years of age or older who, despite not having hospitalization criteria, meet the risk of severe disease such as obesity with a body mass index of 35, chronic kidney disease , diabetes, compromised immune system or being treated with immunosuppressants.
Another group for which the drug could be useful is that made up of people 55 to 64 years of age with cardiovascular disease, hypertension or chronic respiratory disease. In the case of adolescents, Bamlanivimab could be useful in patients with obesity, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, neurological problems – cerebral palsy or that depend on technology – tracheostomy at home or who need oxygen assistance not related to COVID. Also, for asthmatics or those with respiratory diseases who need daily medications.
Cardona clarified that, at the moment, Bamlanivimab is not for sale. In the next 24 hours, Salud will have the application process available through its website.
So far, the only options available to counteract COVID-19 in seriously ill patients are antiviral and convalescent plasma, treatments that are given to hospitalized patients.