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Sisters woman grateful for successful experience with new COVID-19 treatment

St. Charles expanding availability of monoclonal antibody therapy; OHA says it's available by injection, as well as IV

(Update: Adding video, new info, comments from patient, St. Charles doctor)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- After promising results from St. Charles' new COVID-19 therapy treatment, the health system is looking to expand to more sites across Central Oregon. One of the local beneficiaries of the treatment tells us she is thankful for the protection.

St. Charles introduced the monoclonal antibody therapy in early July as a way to help people with mild to moderate COVID-19 fight off the disease and, hopefully, avoid hospitalization.

The hospital system has treated 50 people with this therapy so far. One of those people was long-time Sisters resident Marilyn Cornelius.

The 55-year-old has rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease. Because of that, and because she's a patient services representative in the health care industry, she was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in February. However, on August 16, Cornelius tested positive for the virus.

"I had one pretty bad night, it was pretty scary, with the shortness of breath, with the trying to catch my breath. I kept thinking, 'Wow, this would be really scary if, A, I hadn't been vaccinated, and, B, I didn't know this treatment was on the horizon for me.'"

Dr. Cynthis Maree, the medical director of infection prevention at St. Charles, called monoclonal antibody therapy "really fascinating."

"Monoclonal antibodies, they are not human-derived," she said. "This is made in a laboratory. It blocks the uptake of the virus into the host cell."

According to the St. Charles website, the treatment uses monoclonal antibodies to "mimic the immune system’s natural antibodies, which fight back against harmful antigens such as viruses. Whereas the body takes time to produce natural antibodies, monoclonal antibody treatment allows a sick person to fight the virus earlier, which may prevent them from getting sicker and needing to be hospitalized."

Right now, it's only offered through St. Charles in Bend and Redmond. However, the health system is hoping to expand operations to other care facilities in the region, like High Lakes Health Care and Mosaic Medical.

Before Thursday, the therapy had only been administered intravenously (through an IV) and takes about two and a half hours. It does have an emergency use authorization from the FDA, but not everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is eligible for the treatment.

Currently, monoclonal antibody treatment is only available to people who are at high risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, and they cannot self-refer themselves for the treatment. A physician must make the referral, and infusion would ideally be administered within three days of a positive COVID-19 test or within 10 days of symptom onset.

That was the case for Cornelius, who spoke to NewsChannel 21 from her room over Zoom Thursday on her 10th and final day of quarantine. She said she was skeptical in the beginning, but the therapy was worth it in the end.

"Yeah, it was a little bit scary to think of it at first -- this is being infused into your body, into your bloodstream," Cornelius said. "But I had to have faith and go forward. Again, positive knowing that it was going to work, and it did. I'm telling you, it really made a difference."

In a community statement released Thursday, St. Charles CEO Joe Sluka said, "Our experience with this therapy so far has been very encouraging in keeping COVID-positive patients from needing hospitalization."

Of the 50 people St. Charles has assisted through monoclonal antibody therapy, only one person was hospitalized after treatment. Maree said that person was seen after the 10-day window, which is likely why they had to be admitted.

St. Charles was not only hoping to expand locations for this therapy, but also the way it's administered. Right on cue, the Oregon Health Authority announced Thursday evening the treatment is now available subcutaneously through an injection, in addition to the IV.

Here's the full OHA press release:

Monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 now available by injection

Getting diagnosed with COVID-19 can be scary. However, in addition to the safe and effective vaccines we have in the US, we now have more treatments available that can reduce the severity of COVID-19 in those who have become infected.

Monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments have the potential to save lives, keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital and relieve the current burden on Oregon’s health care system. The treatment is now available in both subcutaneous (an injection) and intravenous (IV) form.

One monoclonal antibody treatment is currently available in Oregon through Health and Human Services (HHS) for free and has proven to be effective against the Delta variant.

People ages 12 and older, who weigh at least 88 lbs. and meet the following requirements may be eligible for mAb treatment:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Are experiencing mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Had first symptoms within the last 10 days.
  • Are considered high risk for going into the hospital because of age, weight, pregnancy, immunosuppressive disease or treatment for some other chronic disease. See the full list.

To learn more about mAb treatment, read the full story on Oregon Vaccine News.

Author Profile Photo

Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

71 Comments

  1. The FDA has approved this “experimental” treatment under an “emergency” declaration, kinda cool being a “guinea pig” with no recourse for your family if things go sideways.

      1. Governor DeSantis is reporting great success using this therapy in Florida! Much better than mandatory Msk mandates and vax squads knocking on people’s doors!

        1. Masks and vaccines prevent the infection from occurring. Monoclonal antibody therapy reduces the impact of the infection after you get it. It’s much more effective to protect one from contracting the disease (and passing it on to others) in the first place than to sit around waiting for it. Probably a lot less expensive too, as well as reducing the burden on medical personnel and facilities.

          1. “Masks and vaccines prevent the infection from occurring”. No they don’t. I have posted the EPA’s link showing the effectiveness of the various masks. None of which will 100% prevent the infection from occurring. Show us the link that says they do! And if vaccines prevent the infection from occurring then there should be ZERO breakthrough cases, and yet, they are happening. If you’re going to make claims like this one, please include the link that shows the proof.

            1. where to stare with someone like you? – developing even a basic understanding of what you are blathering on about could only benefit you – repeating what Tucker says is not a good look and the noise you post is just embarrassing

        2. So it is better, and more expensive, to treat them after they get sick rather that keeping them from getting sick?
          In truth we need both, it is not an either or situation.

        3. the treatment is for people who have already contracted the disease…. that’s why they call it a “treatment” – DeSantis needs an effective “treatment” because his policies have resulted in so many infected people – do you even think beforehand or just let your fingers do the crazy dance on the keyboard? – very impressive

          1. “– DeSantis needs an effective “treatment” because his policies have resulted in so many infected people –” One could same the same thing about this states governor too.

            1. i guess one could “same the same” [sic] – but most people can count and do simple math, so probably wouldn’t – mustn’t put so much effort into denying reality and looking so damn foolish

        4. Hey Hump ~ here’s some interesting Florida data for you.

          In Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has forbidden mask or vaccine mandates, 21,000 people a day are being diagnosed with coronavirus—more than twice the rate of the rest of the country—and almost 230 a day are dying, a rate triple that of the rest of the country. Right now, Florida alone accounts for one fifth of national deaths from Covid.

      1. This is not meant to discredit what you say but, did you read carefully the last five words of the first paragraph under “What is a countermeasure”. Those five words are key to this agency giving you anything.

    1. Quote: “The FDA has approved this “experimental” treatment under an “emergency” declaration, kinda cool being a “guinea pig” with no recourse for your family if things go sideways.”

      You dont want vaccines, you dont want masks, you dont want the antibody therapy. What on Earth do you want?

      1. For all you idiots who buy into everything your crooked government says and are so positive the vaccine and masks work to not worry about those who know better and won’t wear a mask or get vaccinated. If your still worried obviously you have no faith they work. Go stand back in the welfare line.

        1. Be honest, you’re only upset because not enough people are kissing Trump’s fat, feces-covered butt. He lost the election, by the way. You’re an imbecile.

        2. Well, the ones that think they know better, don’t wear a mask and are not vaccinated seem to be the majority of those who are filling our hospitals and icu’s. Your body your choice but when it gets to a point where others are suffering the consequences of your choice then it’s time for someone to take away that choice.

          1. What a nice little tyrant you will be. Has it occurred to you that people don’t trust their lying government and don’t like being told what to do by tyrants like you? What happened to all the “RESIST” bumper stickers on all the Subarus? Did you guys cover them all up with “BIDEN 2024” stickers?

            1. Why is your freedom to ignore guidelines more important? Is wearing a mask a greater sacrifice than having to give up your job to homeschool your immunocompromised child or changing your life routine to avoid the maskless because you yourself have underlying conditions? Just who is being tyrannical?

    2. If you do not read this article with a critical eye, you would think that this treatment is somehow beneficial to those with COVID-19. I see nothing in the article that actually proves/shows causation between between MCA treatment and improvement in COVID infection. There might be some anecdotal outcomes. This is the very definition of fake news and giving false hope. One of the people interviewed used the word ‘potential’. Nothing more as of yet.

  2. Monoclonal antibody treatment has been around for decades, so why hasn’t the FDA approved it before now? Well, because if there had been a good treatment for covid, they would not have been able to approve the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.

        1. It was “around and used” by only a tiny number of well-connected people, like Trump, Trump’s friends (Rudi), Chris Christie, etc. The difference is that now it’s available to the average person.

              1. Right, it is because if there was a good treatment for covid emergency use of the vaccine could not be approved. The finger is pointed at big pharma which controls the CDC (check out there funding) and the FDA.

                1. I should have bought Pfizer stock. They brought in an extra 35 billion this year so far. Pretty good having something the government will soon mandate and require yearly boosters.

        2. Not really but because it’s so expensive and time consuming to make, it seems it was reserved for Trump, Giuliani, Abbot and the rest of his enabling associates. The pheasants are expendable.

    1. – it looks like you are trying to make a point, of some sort – too bad you seem unable to think sequentially and are so motivated to score on your self-inflicted adversaries that you kind of shot yourself in the junk….. so much winning

  3. Since the COVID vaccine is an monoclonal therapy vaccine (according to my Doctor), then what they need to do is STOP pushing everyone to get vaccinated and just wait until a person actually needs it before giving it to them.

    1. Hi, I can help clarify, as I am a scientist working in this field. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not monoclonal antibody based, they are mRNA based. The J&J vaccine uses a disabled adenovirus. It can all be a bit confusing to keep track of the terminology, as an antibody and a “monoclonal antibody” don’t mean exactly the same thing. Your body will produce antibodies by itself in response to vaccines, while monoclonal antibodies are a type of molecules used as medication, and can’t be produced by your body. Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat all sorts of diseases, from cancer, to autoimmune issues, even asthma. Here is a list of all the approved monoclonal antibodies for all different types of diseases, dating back to the ’90s: https://www.antibodysociety.org/resources/approved-antibodies/

      REGEN-COV is just one specific medication, for which there is an emergency use authorization to help reduce progression of COVID symptoms.

      1. Epic. Thank you for this. P Knight will not be responding, because that would sting, but the rest of us have mad props for your big brain. Rock > Disco

    2. IMO, most people would rather not get sick then purposely get sick to the point where they need to be hospitalized and monoclonal antibodies needed. But then I wouldn’t ingest my dog’s heart worm medication just because some wacko on social media recommended it either.

      1. Martha, are you saying that the jab will prevent someone from being infected. I don’t think that is correct as the vaxxed are able to contact apparently as easy as anyone else. My friend and his wife recently both came down with the virus. They had both been fully vaxxed. He was given the nonoclonal treatment as he takes immuno suppressing meds. He said he felt better almost immediately after the treatment. He was much worse without it. Treatment options are good.
        BTW. people have turned to the horse meds because they have been prevented from obtaining the proper medical human dosage form of ivermectin. It is readily available in certain foreign countries just not here.

            1. Geez, Stay on track, please. I already stated numerous times how clueless these people are for taking a med meant for a 1500 pound animal or even a forty pound dog. Tree guy noted that the med was available in other countries at human dosage and that’s what my comment was in reference to.

  4. WOW! Why are you blocking my comment KTVZ? All I asked was why trust the companies that are making these vaccines based on their track records? Is that not left leaning for you to publish my comment? I’m not trolling, I’m asking a fair question?

  5. Don’t want the vaccine? Don’t get it. Don’t wear masks and social distance, we don’t care any longer, just get your affairs in order before heading out, the virus doesn’t care if you are a Democrat or Republican. Have fun having a tube shoved down your throat. Yep, we don’t care any longer, we tried, you failed the IQ test.

  6. I would very much like to know if she was taking HCQ for her RA. It is a safe and common drug. Not that the government would ever let people know if there are prophylaxes methods like the third world is using with great success.

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