This controversial antibody treatment is undergoing clinical trials at the BC Clinic, and researchers hope it will restore confidence


TORONTO – Surrey, BC At a clinic in the US, some newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients are receiving a therapy that some other Canadians may receive.

The Canadian-made treatment is called bamalanivimab, and involves patients with monoclonal antibodies aimed at preventing their disease from progressing to life-threatening, within three days of testing positive.

Bamlanivimab has been approved and used worldwide in more than 400,000 patients, but the treatment is controversial due to recent concerns from the FDA and Health Canada about its effectiveness.

But despite concerns that the drug does not work against some of the new variants, it helps prevent patients infected with previously identified variants in the UK from ending up in hospital with critical illness – many doctors around the country States that it is important that B.1.1.7 is the dominant version prevalent in Canada.

The head of Critical Care at Surrey Memorial Hospital and the principal investigator in this new BC clinic at Peace Arch Hospital, Drs. Greg Halogen told CTV News that one of the main misconceptions and his team is grappling with the notion that the cure is ‘safe’

“Many patients, family physicians and even pharmacists do not know that the drug is safe,” he said. “We are really struggling with a lot of public discourse around this drug. I think there has been a lot of confusion. “

The clinic is dispensing medication to 300 patients who are eligible, and will follow their results in the months following treatment.

This treatment was first approved by Health Canada in November, and about 30,000 doses were purchased by the government, but it is still difficult to obtain in most parts of Canada as patients who are COVID-19 positive are infected and Their surveillance takes two hours.

Patients should be identified in a very short time after a positive test.

“We had to take these people to the peak of their infectiousness and bring them somewhere to get therapy and make sure that they are not exposed to other patients or other staff members,” Halogen said.

Despite logistical difficulties, researchers are hoping to expand the use of treatments.

“We think Canadians are eligible for every option that is available to them to care for severe COVID or mild COVID for that matter,” Dr. Anand Kumar, an intensive care specialist and an associate professor with the University of Manitoba, told CBI News. “It’s a product that’s available, it’s on the shelf.” And it is not being used. “

He said that with the current burden on the ICU, more attention is needed to keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital.

“Given the incredibly high levels of stress that ICUs are subject to, I think that everything and anything we can do may make patients less likely to move toward ICU care. Is required, warranted right now, “he said.

“The risk of its use is low, the potential benefit is high, and we are in a critical position when it comes to the ability of critically ill patients.”

So far, the BC clinic has not acknowledged any severe allergic reactions in response to treatment, and their interim results have supported the safety of the drug that was previously found in trials.

When Isherpal Dhaliwal, 67, of Surrey, BC, heard about the clinic after testing positive, he jumped at the chance.

He is considered at high risk of serious consequences of COVID-19 due to previous heart condition and his age. Since receiving the infusion on April 19, he has not had any symptoms.

“My temperature is gone, everything is gone,” he told CTV News.

The clinic is focusing on people with mild symptoms in the first few days of their illness who are at risk of serious illness. They will track patients to see if they can keep one out of every eight patients out of the hospital, as found in a recent US study on medicine. https://academy.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciab305/6224410

“You are looking for people who are currently suffering from mild diseases but are debilitated in different ways, this may mean […] Kumar said, it may mean that he has got chronic organ failure etc. “These people are at high risk for progress, and are at high risk for a bad outcome if they progress.”

The controversy around the drug stems from the possibility of failure as a treatment when it comes to many forms of anxiety.

Health Canada warned last week that the therapy does not protect against multiple variants with two specific mutations, including variants that first emerged in South Africa, Brazil, California and New York.

Read more: Health Canada issues failure warning for Canada-made COVID-19 antibody treatment

The agency stated that this failure was identified through “global surveillance” and specified that “Bamlunivimb hopes to maintain neutral activity against United Kingdom (UK) origin B.1.1.7 type” . “

Of the three variants detected in Canada, there are more than 100,000 cases of B.1.1.7 compared to any of the other variants. About 116,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 version have been identified in Canada, while there are only 4,469 cases of the P.1 version and more than 700 cases of the B.1.351 version.

Researchers say that since the drug is safe, and the version B.1.1.7 is so widely circulated, the benefits of expanding use in Canada are clear.

“This is good activity for the majority, not the majority of cases that are seen in most of Canada,” Kumar said. “I don’t see a negative aspect.”

Halogen said that his interest in this treatment began in the second wave of the epidemic. It makes sense early in the epidemic that doctors and scientists were focusing on treating those who were seriously ill, but as time went on, they wondered “how do we get the community to stop progressing in the hospital?” Why were I not doing a lot of research?

“I found it really disappointing that we waited until the patients were so sick that they needed to offer us any treatment for COVID before they were hospitalized,” said Halogen. They said.

It is difficult to give such treatment, he conceded, but it is not challenging.

“I think our patients expect us to work hard during the epidemic,” he said. “It’s not just as simple as taking medication, it’s about identifying patients early. It’s about making sure it’s done safely.

“And I think every[one] There should be an opportunity to get this medicine everywhere in Canada, and we should also follow the patient results. “

One detail of this new project that Halogen uncovered was that researchers were not only focusing on patients’ immediate response – as they progressed to hospitalization or whether the drug reduced their illness It holds – but also on the long term.

“The question we are asking that no one else has asked yet is whether such drugs can reduce the results of COVID?” Halogen said. “We know that many patients get symptoms after several, many months.”

They will follow up with patients not only in the weeks following the initial treatment, but also after six months.

“What are their characteristics, what is the quality [of] Life in six months? “Said Halogen. “We have patients who are part of our study and this is the question that was most important to them.”

BC researchers say they will have more data within a month – results that they hope will increase confidence in this Canadian medicine.

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