Aspirus antibody treatment highly effective, but not a perfect alternative to COVID-19 vaccination

WAUSAU, Wis. – COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the Midwest according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This will increase the need to treat those who become severely ill from the virus.

Studies on antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck have yielded promising results combating the worst outcomes of COVID-19. Those treatments still need approval by federal regulators before being available to the public.

Throughout the pandemic, Aspirus Health has worked to offer local access to advanced treatments. For example, Aspirus began using monoclonal antibody treatments for patients infected with COVID-19 about a year ago.

“These are antibodies that are made in a lab by drug companies that mimic some of the antibodies our immune system produces when we have the COVID-19 infection,” said Michelle Brenner, Aspirus Pharmacist and Aspirus Wausau Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy Manager. “These antibodies are designed to grab onto that spike protein on the outside of the COVID virus and to help prevent it from getting into our cells, keeping it in the circulation more available for the rest of the immune system to find and destroy.”

This treatment has been extremely effective at preventing hospitalization in patients diagnosed with COVID-19. As of Nov. 22, Aspirus Health has administered 1,570 antibody treatments which resulted in 269 admissions avoided and 54 deaths prevented based on the admission and fatality rates expected for this high-risk population without treatment.

“We currently have over 10 sites providing this treatment option,” Brenner said. “So, it is in every region of our Aspirus system.”

It is important to note, though, that antibody treatment is not a substitute for getting vaccinated.

“The antibodies are a great option for patients that meet certain criteria, but access is limited,” Brenner said. “The vaccine is highly effective and is available almost anywhere and are going to help us long-term in decreasing or COVID numbers.”

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 must meet specific criteria to be eligible for antibody therapy.

For more local information on COVID-19 vaccines, booster shots and COVID-19 information, please visit the Aspirus Health COVID-19 Resource Center.


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