AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday the state Department of State Health Services will be distributing a shipment of an antibody therapy for COVID-19 as early as next week to acute care hospitals across the state.
The shipment will be of bamlanivimab, the Eli Lilly & Company monoclonal antibody therapy. Weekly shipments of the therapy are given to the state of Texas at no cost through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Texans will not have to pay for the treatment, however healthcare facilities may still charge a fee for administering the medicine.
DSHS will determine where the first shipments of bamlanivimab will go based on the number of new confirmed cases in the community, new lab-confirmed hospital admissions and total lab-confirmed COVID-19 hospital patients.
“This initial allotment of bamlanivimab will help healthcare professionals effectively treat cases of COVID-19 within their communities and aid in reducing hospitalizations,” said Abbott in a press release Friday.
DSHS says the single-dose, hour-long infusion of bamlanivimab is for outpatient use in people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at increased risk of severe disease. When used before patients become very sick, the treatment has been shown to prevent hospitalizations.
“This therapeutic is actually two antibodies they’ve combined in an IV infusion, and these antibodies are genetically engineered from patients who recovered from COVID,” said Dr. Cynthia Brinson of Central Texas Clinical Research.
Dr. Brinson is a lead investigator in an Austin-based study of the antibody therapy and is currently following several patients for 24 weeks to see how the drug impacts them.
“We’ve seen people in college, we’ve seen people in their 70s, and so far we haven’t seen any side effects,” Dr. Brinson said.
Baylor Scott & White tells KXAN “we anticipate that we will receive shipments of the bamlanivimab monoclonal antibody therapy.”
A spokesperson for St. David’s HealthCare said, “Our infectious disease experts are reviewing information about the new treatment, and we are working closely with the state on details related to the administration of this medication. Patients should consult with their physician to see if the Lilly medication is right for them and schedule treatment, if appropriate.”