By Christopher Snowbeck
From Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS—A subset of COVID-19 patients who received infusions of laboratory-made antibodies ran a lower risk of requiring hospital care for their illnesses, according to a Mayo Clinic study released Monday.
The report in the journal Lancet EClinical Medicine suggests that certain monoclonal antibody treatments can help patients with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high risk of serious COVID-19 illness due to other health conditions.
Mayo Clinic was the first health system in Minnesota last year to offer certain COVID-19 patients the antibody infusions, which must be given shortly after patients get sick. Former President Donald Trump received an early version of the treatment when he took ill with the pandemic virus last year.
“These are excellent results with reductions in hospitalizations,” Dr. Raymund Razonable, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist and senior author of the study, said in an interview. “Among [high-risk] patients who develop COVID, they should seek this treatment as early as possible in order to prevent the disease from progressing to serious illness.”
While the treatment is promising, patients shouldn’t view monoclonal antibodies as an alternative to vaccines, Razonable said.
“Monoclonal antibodies provide immediate but short-term immunity, while vaccination will provide longer-term immunity,” he said in a statement.
“Monoclonal antibodies provide temporary immunity that will help patients recover from their acute COVID-19 illness. However, these monoclonal antibodies are not long-lasting [and] will eventually disappear.”
The study followed nearly 700 patients who received a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, antibody treatments that the Food and Drug Administration has cleared for emergency use. Tracking patients treated between December 2020 and April, the study compared outcomes among those who received the drug combination with a group of similar patients who didn’t receive infusions.
“Their status was evaluated at 14, 21, and 28 days after treatment,” the clinic said in a news release. “At each point, the numbers for hospitalization were significantly lower in the treated group.”
Considering the results from the new study, plus earlier research, Razonable said in a statement: “Our conclusion overall at this point is that monoclonal antibodies are an important option in treatment to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in high-risk patients.”
High-risk patients eligible for the treatment are those age 65 and older, or younger people with one of several health conditions such as high body mass index, chronic kidney disease, or diabetes.
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