ROCHESTER, Minn. - In November, Mayo Clinic was the first hospital in Minnesota to offer an experimental therapy to patients who test positive for COVID-19 and are at a higher risk for serious illness. This treatment was issued by the FDA as an emergency use authorization, so it hasn't been given the official green light just yet. It's currently going on as a clinical trial, but data shows the treatment is effective.
The therapy uses a type of drug called a monoclonal antibody, meaning the antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system's ability to fight off harmful viruses. It's called bamlanivimab and is given to a COVID-19 patient through an IV. Patients have to be eligible to receive this treatment, some of the criteria includes being 65 or older, having a compromised immune system and showing mild to moderate symptoms, so people already in the hospital do not qualify. Dr. Raymund Razonable explained the treatment has been proven to reduce symptoms by two days, but it has to be given within ten days of symptoms because the goal is to catch the virus in time to prevent the patient from being hospitalized. "That alone actually is going to help the health system a little bit because as you could imagine and hear from the news that hospitals are filling up with COVID patients and this our one way of preventing that from happening," said Dr. Razonable. "That way we can basically allocate our resources to the sickest ones that really require hospitalization and at the same time improve care of patients in the outpatient setting."
After it was given the OK for emergency use, the Minnesota Department of Health gave a number of doses to various hospitals and clinics based on the number of positive cases in that area, this treatment isn't limited to just Mayo Clinic patients. Dr. Razonable advises you to reach out to your primary doctor if you're interested in receiving it. It's a one hour infusion that's done outpatient and you have to be monitored for an hour afterwards, then you're done.