LHC using experimental COVID-19 treatment

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Livingston HealthCare has been using an experimental COVID-19 treatment called monoclonal antibody therapy to treat some high risk COVID-19 patients.

According to LHC Medical Director Dr. Scott Coleman, monoclonal antibody therapy is acts similarly to how a vaccine acts, by attacking a specific antigen, in this case the spike protein on COVID-19 that binds the virus to cells in the body.

Monoclonal antibody therapy, administered through an IV, pumps antibodies into the body that would normally take time for the body to produce in order to fight the virus.

The outpatient treatment, which Coleman said is administered in the hospital’s ICU/emergency room, can infuse someone with the same number of COVID-19 antibodies as a vaccinated person would produce in, say, a month after being vaccinated.

The treatment has been approved for emergency use — earlier than it would have been under normal conditions, Coleman said.

Coleman said studies have indicated the treatment is effective at reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Monoclonal antibodies use has become extensive recently to fight other pathogens, Coleman said, and is by no means a novel technology.

LHC has been using monoclonal antibody therapy for two to three weeks, Coleman said. The hospital received 30 doses initially, followed by an additional 10 doses. Of those, the hospital has administered probably 10 to 13 doses, he said.

The treatment is most effective for people who have just started showing symptoms, and are acutely ill, Coleman said.

People in high-risk categories such as those over age 65, with heart disease, hypertension, obesity or other health issues are more likely to be eligible for the treatment, Coleman said.

Those already hospitalized with COVID-19 or who have been showing symptoms for more than 10 days are ineligible for the treatment, he said.

Coleman said monoclonal antibody therapy could be used more widely to treat COVID-19 in the future, but his hope is in the future COVID-19 will be dealt with more through prevention vaccines than treatment.

Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms and has tested positive and feels they are high risk should call LHC’s general number (222-3541) and hospital personnel can walk them through different treatment options and help them get over the illness.

According to the state’s hospital occupancy report, as of Monday there were three people hospitalized at LHC with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 situation overall in Park County has improved in recent weeks, Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick told the county commissioners Tuesday, and cases are down.

While masks remain the best way to stop transmission of COVID-19 from person to person, the question on everyone’s mind is about vaccines, Desnick said.

Desnick said Park County should see shipments of COVID-19 vaccine in two to three weeks, and possibly as early as next week.

In other COVID news, one student at East Side School tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Livingston School District’s COVID-19 online outbreak dashboard.

As of Monday, 27 students and staff across the Livingston School District were quarantining or isolating because of the virus.

The state of Montana reported two new COVID-19 cases in Park County Tuesday, bringing the county to 779 total confirmed cases during the pandemic, 157 of which are active.

Overall, Montana has reported 74,040 total COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, 8,916 of which are active.

There have been 826 deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19, four of which were Park County residents.

Studies have indicated the treatment is effective at reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.