New early COVID treatment arrives in South Carolina, but with limited availability

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A new drug that could prevent hospitalization for some high-risk COVID-19 patients is being distributed to health facilities across South Carolina.

However, only 15 have accepted the drug as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus to date, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The drug’s supply is also critically limited.

The federal government has allocated 300,000 doses of the drug to the states, and South Carolina has received only 1,570 bottles from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to date.

In addition to its availability, the use of the drug is highly controversial, even among the medical community, due to the unknown risks associated with its experimental nature.

Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody treatment that has recently been authorized for emergency use by the Federal Drug Administration. The availability of treatment provides a new, but uncertain, option for doctors to treat COVID-19 mild to moderate in adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with a positive COVID-19 test.

It is intended only for those who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 and / or hospitalization, according to the manufacturer of the treatment, Eli Lilly and Company.

Treatment should be administered as soon as the patient’s test is positive for COVID-19 and within 10 days after the onset of symptoms, and is administered to the patient by means of an hour intravenous infusion.

“Similar to blood serum treatments of patients who have recovered from infection, monoclonal antibody treatments include antibodies synthesized in a laboratory and designed to detect the spike protein in the COVID-19 virus. These antibodies are the only ones present in the treatment and at higher concentrations than the serum from recovered patients, ”DHEC officials said in a statement.

However, DHEC declined to release a list of which hospitals received treatment bottles, citing “an abundance of caution regarding safety issues”.

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