Yakima hospital now offers monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19

Treatment helps reduce risk of severe illness in recently diagnosed patients at high risk for complications

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is now offering the REGEN-COV monoclonal antibody therapy to COVID-19 patients with a referral from their primary care provider.

“This is for people who haven’t had a chance to be fully vaccinated who then get a COVID diagnosis and are scared that they could have severe complications,” Dr. Tanny Davenport, physician executive of medical group operations at the hospital.

Davenport said the treatment is administered through an injection under the skin. To be eligible, patients must be 12 years or older, have tested positive for COVID-19 and be within seven days of the onset of their symptoms.

Additionally, patients must be experiencing mild to moderate symptoms and be either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated may also be eligible if they are age 70 or older, or if they have moderate to severe immunosuppression.

“This is the perfect treatment to really decrease their risk of being hospitalized or even dying,” Davenport said.

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The treatment is only available to patients who have a referral from a primary care provider and is geared toward patients at high risk for complications. Some of the risk factors for severe illness or hospitalization due to COVID-19 include:

  • Being age 65 or older
  • Obesity (having a body mass index of 35 or more for adults and for children 12 to 17 years old, having a BMI in the 90th percentile for their age and gender)
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppressive disease
  • Immunosuppressive treatment
  • Cardiovascular disease or hypertension
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (cerebral palsy, other genetic or metabolic syndromes)

“We have a limited supply, so we really want to make sure we’re giving it to patients who are at the highest need in our community,” Davenport said.

Davenport said Washington state currently has just 2,400 doses of the treatment, which has been approved by the FDA under emergency use authorization.

The state Department of Health is working on a prioritization plan to determine which counties are most at need for additional REGEN-COV doses they may receive from the federal government.

“We will likely include things like disease burden, hospitalization rates and utilization, because those are things that determine how we as a state get allocated monoclonal antibodies from the federal government,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for the state’s COVID response, at a state Department of Health briefing Wednesday.

Davenport said they may be able to get more doses from the state if they are able to administer all the ones they have right now and show there’s a high need for monoclonal antibody treatment in the Yakima area.

Washington State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said while the treatment is effective for patients who have already been infected, it is not a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine. He said they don’t want people to rely on the fact that the treatment is available as a reason not to get the vaccine.

“In other words, get vaccinated, do all the right things up front and let’s hope that you never get into a situation where monoclonal antibody is what’s necessary in order to prevent you from having a more serious illness,” Shah said.

Davenport said people should still continue to follow COVID-19 precautions to help prevent virus transmission in the community.

“The big message is regardless of all these fancy treatments, the best way to prevent severe COVID infections is to wear a mask and to get fully vaccinated,” Davenport said.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is available from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at Memorial’s COVID Assessment and Treatment Clinic at 1607 Creekside Loop, Suite 100 in Yakima.  The clinic can be reached by phone at 509-225-2091.

“Patients are not able to self-schedule,” the hospital said in a Wednesday news release. “Most insurance is accepted, but patients should check with their insurance carrier.”

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