Vermont turns to monoclonal antibody treatment to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations

Coronavirus

The Delta surge, delays in medical treatment and a rise in mental health emergencies are putting pressure on Vermont hospitals, and state officials are hoping the use of monoclonal antibody treatments will reduce the demand for emergency beds.

Over the weekend, the Vermont Department of Health worked with Vermont’s Emergency Medical Services and Northwest Medical Center to administer the therapy to residents of a long-term care facility who tested positive during a recent outbreak.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said while it’s not a substitute for vaccinations, monoclonal antibody treatments can help keep the most vulnerable Vermonters out of the hospital.

“These treatments are powerful and highly effective against COVID, reducing the chance of being hospitalized by 70 percent,” Dr. Levine said.

Will Moran, chief of EMS, said the latest reports show that everyone who received the treatment is doing well. He added that it’s important to know when monoclonal antibodies are the right course.

“Someone obtains a test, it comes back positive, they’re experiencing symptoms – that’s when they’d want to reach out to their healthcare provider,” Moran said. “It’s not intended to stop the illness entirely, but certainly it can reduce the severity of the illness and keep them out of the hospital.”

Early treatment is key, said Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith, so bringing it directly to certain patients with the help of local EMS is a promising strategy.

“A health alert will be going out from the health department this week encouraging the use of this treatment option,” Smith said.

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