BALTIMORE — MedStar Harbor Hospital is administering monoclonal antibody (MAB) therapy for eligible COVID-19 positive patients at its ground floor infusion center, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Research shows that the therapy may limit the viral load in the body and help patients improve sooner.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced proteins designed to copy the body’s natural immune response to fight off harmful pathogens, such as the coronavirus. Bamlanivimab and estesvimab are the monoclonal antibodies designed to target the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus and block its attachment to human cells. The result of the treatment in clinical trials significantly reduced COVID-19 related hospitalizations and eased associated symptoms in patients.
“When patients present with COVID-19 symptoms and test positive, we can potentially reduce the risk of complications when we give the monoclonal antibodies early—before their symptoms worsen,” said internist Tara Saggar, MD, regional medical director of Primary Care, MedStar Medical Group.
“My symptoms had been getting increasingly worse,” said Harford County resident Edward Kohlhepp, 56, who received the MAB infusion at MedStar Harbor Hospital one day after testing positive for COVID-19. “But they stopped after getting the infusion. I started feeling better even by the next day. I have recommended monoclonal antibodies to anyone who needs it and can get it. It was very effective in turning me around.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for using monoclonal antibodies in the treatment of COVID-19 in November. Administered once, these infusions must be given within the first ten days of the initial onset of mild to moderate symptoms.
Patients may opt for treatment using monoclonal antibodies if at least one of the following criteria is met and there is a current positive COVID-19 test result:
- Age 65 years or older
- Body Mass Index greater than 35
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Age 55 years or older AND have cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory disease.
Those who meet the criteria are advised to speak with their physician about their eligibility prior to treatment. A physician referral is needed, and may be obtained via with a MedStar eVisit. The outpatient infusion takes less than an hour to receive, followed by one hour of monitoring in the infusion center.
Eligible patients should contact the MedStar Health Call Center at 855-416-5244. Patient referrals from physicians at non-MedStar Health practices will also be accepted via fax at 443-583-0651.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is also available to Emergency department patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and meet criteria. Note that patients should not be referred to the Emergency department for treatment.
For more information about monoclonal antibody therapeutics, CLICK HERE.
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At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.