LUBBOCK, TX — Bamlanivimab is the latest antibody treatment being used to combat coronavirus. It might be difficult to pronounce, but it also might just save your life, according to health officials.
Friday, Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services is distributing bamlanivimab, an antibody therapy from Eli Lilly & Company, across the state starting early next week. It’s the latest move Texas is taking to help ease the burden on hospitals overwhelmed with the state’s continued COVID-19 surge.
As Lubbock boils into a coronavirus hotspot, according to University Medical Center and the health department, the drug is needed in the Hub City now more than ever.
“I think it’s another tool we have in our tool kit to fight this pandemic … If you are older or are at risk, there’s another option for you now,” Eric Finley, Communications Director for UMC, said.
UMC also said the treatment is meant for high risk COVID-19 patients before they get too sick and the virus lands them in the ER or the ICU. It’s administered in one sitting by IV, and the earlier it’s taken, the better.
“The key to this drug is giving it early, kind of like Tamiflu. If you have the flu, you want it taken initially, and it will lessen the time that you’re sick and reduce the symptoms that you have,” Finley said.
The governor’s office said that the drug has been proven to prevent hospitalizations for some patients, and when combined with the other treatments and potential vaccines the state is working on, it will reduce the severity of the pandemic in Texas.
“Fewer people will be getting COVID. People will be recovering from COVID quicker. Fewer people will be hospitalized, and deaths will go down,” Gov. Abbott said in an interview with KAMC’s sister station KXAS in Dallas.
What regions will receive the therapy depends on three factors:
- The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community.
- The number of new lab-confirmed COVID-19 admissions to hospitals in the community.
- The total number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
This week, UMC and Covenant Health constructed mobile medical tents to assist local hospitals handling the influx of patients. UMC said it has requested bamlanivimab from the governor’s office, but it doesn’t know when or how much it will receive.
“I know there’s a lot of attention from the state, from the governor’s office on Lubbock and on West Texas because of what’s going on here, seeing the erection of the tents and a push for a drug like this. I think it’s just another reminder that we have to take this very seriously,” Finley said.