The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a medication called Evusheld this week. The drug, made by AstraZeneca, has the potential to play an important role in preventing COVID-19 infection among a vulnerable population of people for whom the vaccine is either not recommended, or who take immunosuppressive medications and do not mount an adequate immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Since it can be hard to keep track of the latest COVID breakthroughs – both in treatment and prevention – here’s a breakdown of what you should know.
New Antibody Drug for Most Vulnerable
Evusheld is to be used by a specific patient population before COVID exposure. It is a prophylactic medication designed to prevent infection. It is not a treatment for COVID. Two categories of patients qualify for Evusheld:
- Those who have a moderately to severely compromised immune system due to a medical condition, or due to taking immunosuppressive medications or treatments, who therefore may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. Medical conditions that qualify include but are not limited to the following:
- Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
- Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
- Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20 mg prednisone or equivalent per day when administered for ≥2 weeks), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory (e.g., B-cell depleting agents)
- Those who have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine and/or components of those vaccines, and are therefore not eligible (or advised against getting) for the COVID vaccine.
Evosheld is not an alternative to vaccine for the average person. It is an additional tool in our arsenal to fight COVID that is designed for a specific patient population. If you are not vaccinated, this is a medication that could save your life.
Antiviral Pills Coming Soon
Merck and Pfizer will soon debut new antiviral pills to target COVID infection. Here’s what we know so far…
Molnupiravir (Merck) has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by 30 percent if taken within five days of the onset of symptoms.
The antiviral made by Pfizer may perform even better. An early analysis of the Pfizer pill suggests it may be up to 85 percent effective in reducing hospitalization and death if taken within the first five days of the start of symptoms.
Things are rapidly changing on the COVID treatment front, but one thing is for sure. The more tools we have to limit infection and prevent serious illness, the better. The Omicron variant is now in Chicago and while it’s yet to be seen if it will cause serious illness, we do know that it is highly contagious and can fuel an increase in virus cases.
Both antiviral pills may be authorized by year’s end and available in early 2022. Innovative Care will continue to watch this closely, and we will offer options to patients as soon as they become available.
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
Monoclonal antibody treatment aims to prevent serious illness from COVID. Innovative Care offers monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID positive patients who are within 10 days of the symptom onset and who have risk factors that leave them vulnerable to complications from the virus. A complete list of qualifications for monoclonal antibody treatment can be found on our website. Monoclonal antibody treatment is available in Lincoln Park and Downers Grove.
Innovative Care Testing & Treatment
Innovative Care has dedicated COVID clinics to offer testing, vaccines and treatment. We will continue to keep you apprised of the latest offerings as we continue to navigate through this ongoing pandemic.