FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) announced Tuesday that it is now administering a special infusion to qualifying COVID-positive people in Northwest Arkansas in an effort to help minimize symptoms and keep people out of the hospital.
UAMS will provide the subcutaneous monoclonal antibody injections (Regen-Cov) on its Fayetteville campus at 1125 N. College Ave. on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with plans to increase to five days per week within the next two weeks, according the Sheena CarlLee, M.D., a UAMS internal medicine physician who is helping lead the clinic.
“The drug is not a cure,” CarlLee said, “but is designed to lessen the viral load and severity of illness. The therapy has proven to help reduce the need for hospitalization for high-risk COVID-positive patients by nearly 70%.”
According to UAMS, the monoclonal antibody therapies deliver man-made antibodies that the body’s immune system would naturally produce when exposed to the novel coronavirus. This speeds up the immune response process.
Qualifying patients are those with mild to moderate symptoms with less than 10 days since symptom onset and who carry one of the risk factors that could worsen outcomes from COVID-19, including:
- Age 65 or older and those aged 12 to 64 who are high risk for severe disease
- Obesity, with aBMI greater than 25
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
- Cardiovascular disease or hypertension
- Chronic lung diseases
- Sickle cell disease
- Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy
- Having a medical-related technological dependence such as tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19)
Injections are outpatient only, and UAMS has set up a special monoclonal antibody clinic space so that COVID-positive patients are kept separate from other clinic patients.
The injections are administered at four sites on the body, and individuals will be monitored for an hour to make sure there are no serious reactions to the drug.
According to CarlLee, UAMS can treat about eight patients a day in Northwest Arkansas.
Any UAMS or non-UAMS provider can screen and order the treatment for their patients, the university said.
Non-UAMS providers should email the patient’s name and contact information to UAMS HealthNow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals can also email their name, date of birth and phone number to UAMS HealthNow.
Clinic staff will call to provide screening and order treatment if appropriate.
COVID-positive Marshallese residents who need to be screened can call 479-332-0222 to speak to a Marshallese community health worker in their native language.