Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Offered on Both Moloka‘i and Maui
A growing network of healthcare facilities are now offering access to monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb), REGENERON, including the Molokaʻi Community Health Center in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Offered on Molokaʻi
MCHC representatives say this one-time therapy is “highly effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalization caused by COVID-19.”
“We are continuing to see our people test positive for COVID-19 across the state at record-breaking rate day by day. Molokaʻi is one of the most vulnerable areas in our state right now and is at great risk of severe hospitalization and even death from this virus. We have something here and now for our patients and families who are directly impacted. We encourage high-risk patients who test positive for COVID-19 to seek out monoclonal antibody treatment,” said Helen Kekalia Wescoatt, CEO of Molokaʻi Community Health Center.
According to mapping produced by the state Department of Health, Molokaʻi has reported 46 cases in the past two weeks. It represents more than a quarter of the total number of cases reported on the island over the course of the pandemic. There’s between 60.1%-70% of people on Molokaʻi who have completed vaccinations.
“With hospitals reaching crisis standards of care, every measure needs to be taken to prevent development of severe COVID which then leads to hospital admission. Our best tool to prevent COVID remains vaccination and this needs to continue to be the No. 1 priority of everyone. However, with a large number of unvaccinated people remaining, and with the threat of break through infections in vaccinated individuals, effective treatment of COVID in its early stages is also a top priority. Monoclonal antibody therapy is safe, effective and is another essential tool in the treatment of this potentially deadly disease,“ said Scott R. Link, MD, CMO with Molokaʻi Community Health Center.
The MCHC advises that in high-risk COVID-19 patients this medication can be given up to 10 days after the first onset of symptoms or positive test. According to MCHC, the earlier in infection REGENERON is given, the more effective it is likely to be. “This medication is also approved to be used by high risk patients who have not tested positive for COVID-19 as soon as possible after a known COVID exposure,” MCHC stated.
The treatment is given by a one-time injection and authorized for individuals 12 and over with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are not hospitalized, don’t need supplemental oxygen and meet criteria.
“Receiving treatment earlier in the course of illness may help prevent the development of more severe symptoms that would otherwise require hospitalization. Criteria for therapy are broad and many people are likely candidates who would benefit,” MCHC said in press release announcement.
This particular regimen is approved by the Federal Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization. Hospital representatives say the treatment is effective but not a replacement for vaccination. On Molokaʻi, there is no cost to the patient and treatment is offered regardless of patient status or health insurance.
For more information or to be screened to see if you are a candidate for monoclonal therapy, please call MCHC at 808-553-5038, Ext.1.
Maui Health Offering REGENERON
Dr. Michael Shea, Chief Medical Director, Maui Health spoke at an afternoon press briefing on Maui saying REGENERON is also available on Maui.
“If you are COVID positive but not so sick that you need the hospital, there are treatments available that can actually reduce your risk of hospitalization… If you’re willing, contact your physician. They can arrange it through the hospital to get you a dose,” said Dr. Shea, noting that the treatment is available right now it both the Maui Memorial Medical Center Emergency Room and in the hospital’s outpatient area.
“You do need to have a referral from your physician to our program. They have the information available. If they want the information, they can look at our website,” he said.
“We have Emergency Use Authorization for many treatments related to COVID. We’d be happy to give those to you if you’re sick enough to need them,” said Dr. Shea.
What’s the Difference Between a Third Shot and a Vaccine Booster?
Maui Health Officials also offered further information about vaccinations, explaining the difference between a third shot and a vaccine booster.
“There is a third shot available for folks who are severely immunocompromised… Third dose means that the first two doses didn’t get your antibody levels where they need to be because you have immunocompromised. There’s studies that recently came out that show that certain people are not going to generate antibodies if they’re on medications that suppress their immune system. And there are specific medications,” said Dr. Shea.
Those who are interested can talk their physician to see if they qualify. If they do, that third shot is available at the Maui Health clinic on Mondays and Fridays, between 9 a.m. and noon or 1 to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed.
“The booster shot is for those of us who got a shot back in December or January or thereafter. We got a normal immune response, but over time, about eight months later, we’re starting to see a waning of that immune response. The booster is to get those antibody levels back up to where they need to be,” said Dr. Shea.
Maui Health administrators say they are not yet authorized to give booster shots, but suspect that’s coming soon. “I promise you, as soon as we are able to give it to you, we’re going to put that on every media outlet available and make it freely available to everybody. We currently have plenty of doses of vaccine, so there shouldn’t be a shortage,” said Dr. Shea.
Maui Health is Latest to Caution Against Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine
Maui Health administrators are the latest to caution against Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine following similar warnings from the CDC, state Department of Health and the Mayor’s office.
“Don’t let misinformation out there cause you to lose your life. There’s so much information on social media right now. There’s all this stuff in the news. [Regarding] Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine–There’s some well meaning people out there who are just trying to find the magic bullet to beat this disease, but these are unproven treatments and they actually are dangerous,” said Dr. Shea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a health advisory on Thursday, amid a rapid increase in Ivermectin prescriptions and reports of severe illness associated with use of products containing Ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.
“They are seeing an increased number of people calling poison control with overdoses of Ivermectin. This is life threatening. Please, please do not use these treatments for COVID,” said Dr. Shea.
He made a plea to the public, saying, “Things are tough right now. People are working really hard… Folks are exhausted. Please be safe. Do the right thing. Protect your loved ones. Protect yourself. Get vaccinated and please stay home as much as you can.”