Valley to receive COVID-19 antibody therapy doses

A drug aimed at helping people who contracted COVID-19 avoid hospitalization will be distributed across the Valley and throughout Texas as early as next week, according to state officials.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office announced the monoclonal antibody therapy known as bamlanivimab will be sent to acute care hospitals across Texas.

The FDA defines monoclonal antibodies as “laboratory-produced molecules engineered to serve as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells.”

“This first shipment will be 214 doses, one dose per person, 214 to the trauma service center of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy,” Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for Texas Department of State Health Services, said.

The news release from the governor’s office stated, “Bamlanivimab is for outpatient use in people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at increased risk of severe disease. It has been shown to prevent hospitalizations in some patients when used before they become very sick.”

Not everyone can receive the treatment, which will be prioritized for people with the virus who may have multiple risk factors.

“Someone who’s elderly, or has diabetes, heart disease, lung issues, breathing issues, some of the other issues that can lead to really serious complications,” Van Deusen said.

Bamlanivimab is not authorized for use in patients with COVID-19 who are hospitalized, require oxygen therapy, or need an increase in their baseline oxygen flow rate.

More shipments are anticipated after next week.

“This is just the first one. We expect we’re going to get more shipments every week,” Van Deusen said.

State officials will determine the amount of doses that get sent to each part of the state based on three criteria, “new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community, new lab-confirmed COVID-19 admissions to hospitals, and total lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals,” according to the governor’s office.