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There is a new weapon in the fight against COVID-19.  Bamlanivimab, recently given emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is an antibody therapy drug used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients.

Kearney Regional Medical Center received its first allotment of the drug late last week and was able to administer the first dosage on Wednesday, November 18th.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. Shanna Stofer, PharmD and Director of Ancillary Services at Kearney Regional Medical Center said, “This drug can be used to lessen the severity of the COVID-19 virus in high-risk populations such as the elderly and those that may be immune-compromised. Bamlanivimab is designed to block the COVID-19 virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.”

Currently, only people who meet certain criteria and deemed a suitable candidate by a physician can receive this treatment. The drug is designed for the outpatient setting for those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 but not requiring hospitalization.

After being seen by a provider, candidates for Bamlanivimab will undergo a rapid PCR test for COVID-19. If they receive a positive result, administration of the drug can begin that same day.

The drug is administered as an infusion and takes about an hour to receive. Infusion rooms are set up both at Platte Valley Medical Clinic and in the KRMC Emergency Room. Bamlanivimab must be given within three days of a positive COVID-19 PCR test and ten days after first showing symptoms.

Distribution of the drug is being managed by the State of Nebraska through the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Many are hopeful that allocations will continue to increase so patients can be helped before needing a higher level of care. Said Stofer, “If we can catch these very sick people and prevent them from coming into the hospital, we’ll be more able to stop the surge that is putting pressure on our critical care services.”

If you are experiencing general symptoms of COVID-19 please call 308-865-2263 to schedule an appointment at the Platte Valley Respiratory Clinic to be seen by a physician. If you are experiencing extreme shortness of breath or other emergent symptoms, please call 911 or come to the Emergency Department at Kearney Regional Medical Center.