Regeneron antibody cocktail, a combination of drugs used to treat COVID-19 fly off shelves in the United States of America.
The manufacturer said the US has purchased about three million doses at a cost of about US$2,100 – much more than a typical dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – and is providing the treatment to patients for free.
And the World Health Organization on Friday endorsed the drug for some patients at high risk of hospitalization.
But in Canada, this and other drugs, known as monoclonal antibody treatments, are hardly being used – even though doctors say they will be a useful addition to their COVID-fighting arsenal.
“This new antibody cocktail is the one that is probably most promising for people with mild COVID-19 and also appears to be promising for people hospitalized with COVID-19 who are nave to the virus: therefore They have not been vaccinated or they have not been infected before,” Dr. Amol Verma, a physician and scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.
These drugs are a direct shot of antibodies targeting the virus that causes COVID-19, he said, helping people who are already infected to fight better. and reduce the likelihood that they may have to be hospitalized.
Some patients say that the treatment has made a huge difference in their lives.
Joyce Wachsmuth of Eau Claire, Wis., and her husband were infected with COVID-19 in January. A breast cancer survivor, she had never felt so much pain.
When doctors at the local Mayo Clinic told the 67-year-old that she and her husband, 70, were prime candidates for an experimental drug treatment with monoclonal antibodies, she jumped at the chance, she told the Associated Press in August.
Waxmuth said she felt relief only two hours after the one-hour drip treatment.
“It worked wonders. It kept us away from the hospital and ventilators,” said Wachsmuth, who has since been vaccinated.
An infectious disease physician at Sinai Health and University Health Network and professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. “What we know so far, and we have a number of studies on this, it’s remarkably effective,” said Andrew Morris.
But although he thinks it’s useful, Morris said, “in Canada, we don’t have enough of it.”
Canada has received 6,000 doses of the antibody cocktail, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, with another 3,000 doses due in October – far fewer than the US’s order of 3 million doses.
Nearly every province Granthshala News reported limited supplies, with some, such as New Brunswick, saying treatment was not available at all.
There are some reasons why these treatments are not widely used in Canada, Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference on Friday.
“It’s not really basically about cost. There’s access, but there’s also feasibility of delivery,” she said. “For example, one of the antibody combinations was given intravenously. And it shows There is new data for whether you can actually give it under the skin now, and then increase the feasibility of using these drugs in a frontline setting.
Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at McGill University Health Center, said the logistics of actually dispensing drugs to people is certainly a hurdle.
“These antibodies, because they require an intravenous infusion, necessarily require an infusion center,” he said. “And infusion centers are usually done in a hospital setting where you bring in people and you have dedicated health care workers who put an intravenous in that person and they give them medicines and they make sure they There’s no reaction.”
In the middle of a pandemic, there were problems finding personnel to do this, he said, and with ensuring that antibody patients – those who have active COVID-19 – are kept away from other people in the hospital.
“Now you’re bringing these people into a hospital setting, which is obviously not a good thing because you don’t want them to expose other people to the virus,” he said.
In the US, some states have set up dedicated antibody treatment centers for COVID-19 patients.
Vinh is hoping to do something similar in a dedicated area at the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, Canada, with negative pressure rooms and specially trained staff to ensure the infection doesn’t spread.
Like Tam, he thinks that new ways to deliver medicine microscopically will also help solve logistics problems.
Morris said Canada “absolutely” should be using more monoclonal antibody treatments.
“I think it’s problematic that we’re not using treatments yet or if we have, it’s minimal. I see it as a very important part of our strategy to keep people out of hospital and ICUs.” I see as
While Vinh said vaccination is still the most important strategy to fight the pandemic, antibody treatment has its place.
“These monoclonal antibodies are a welcome addition. They are not a silver bullet,” he said. But people who get vaccinated but still become infected with COVID-19 and are at risk of complications, they can use another tool are, he said.
“We cannot just sit idly and let them get infected and deteriorate. If they have done their part to get the vaccine, we need to do our part to make sure we still protect them as much as we can. “