UCI Reduces COVID-19 Hospitalizations Through Transfusions 

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 10, 2021

The University of California–Irvine (UCI) says it’s found a way to reduce COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and the strategy is so effective that a federal virus response team has tapped it as a model.

UCI is using monoclonal antibodies (antibodies developed in a laboratory) to help lessen virus symptoms for those who tested positive for COVID-19. Its medical team has treated about 170 patients with the antibody therapy with great success, said Dr. Alpesh N. Amin.

“There is about a threefold reduction in hospitalizations and [emergency room] visits, compared to patients that don’t get treatment,” Amin told The Epoch Times.

UCI spokesperson Nicole Feldman said that only a small percentage of patients who received the monoclonal treatment required hospitalization.

“Of the first 86 patients who received monoclonal antibody therapy at UCI—which included Latino, white, Asian-American and Black patients—only about 3 percent afterward had to be admitted to the emergency department,” Feldman said in a release.

“This tracks with the FDA’s findings that only about three percent of high-risk patients treated with the therapy required hospitalization or emergency department visits, compared with nine percent of patients in the control group.”

Now, UCI is partnering with the federal government’s response to COVID-19 team to share its success in delivering monoclonal antibodies with health care systems across the country.

Monoclonal antibody treatment requires an infusion that takes about one hour, followed by another hour for observation before the patient is released.

Only mild to moderate COVID-positive patients with fewer than seven days of symptoms are eligible for treatment.

Patients must be referred to UCI’s clinic and fit the emergency use authorization guidelines after testing positive for the virus.

The clinic can treat 24 to 36 patients per day.

Amin said the monoclonal antibody treatment’s success allows hospital resources to be allocated to high-need individuals.

“As long as we can prevent folks from needing to come in and utilize those resources and we can save those resources for those that absolutely need it, it becomes a way of us having to manage the population at large,” Amin said.

“The benefit outweighs the risk significantly, and it then prevents them from progressing to needing an [emergency room] visit or a hospitalization. You can save that [emergency department] visit, or hospitalized bed for a person that really needs it. It’s an opportunity from that perspective.”