Michigan intends to expand access to promising yet underutilized antibody treatments as hospitalizations and test positivity rates in the state soar.
“Monoclonal antibodies are an incredible treatment … that we want to deploy in Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said earlier this week. “A monoclonal antibody … can be a lifesaver, and it can keep you out of the hospital, and that’s what we’re trying to do is get our hospital rates down.”
‘A CLOSELY HELD SECRET’: HIGHLY PROMISING COVID-19 TREATMENT HASN’T GAINED WIDESPREAD USE
Monoclonal antibody therapies contain synthesized copies of the antibodies that are naturally generated when a person’s immune system fights off an infection. The two therapies authorized for public use in the United States were developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly and have been found to reduce viral loads before infection becomes severe.
Monoclonal antibody therapies “are another tool in our toolbox as we work hard to save lives,” Whitmer said.
Early research reported by Regeneron found that its antibody cocktail reduced COVID-19-related medical visits by 57%. Another study by Eli Lilly of its monoclonal antibody drug called bamlanivimab found that only 1.6% of patients who received it were hospitalized versus 6.3% who had the placebo. Still, the treatments are still underutilized in much of the U.S.
“We’re engaging with our federal partners to expand supply at centers that currently administer these treatments and also working to stand up additional sites where they can be accessed,” Whitmer said.
ELI LILLY ANTIBODY THERAPY EFFECTIVE AT CUTTING COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS AND DEATHS
Former President Donald Trump received the Regeneron treatment last fall when he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and touted it as a cure for the disease. The treatments were not widely used during the winter coronavirus surge when hospital emergency departments in the Midwest struggled to keep up with the mounting number of new patients admitted each day.
Michigan has confirmed nearly 780,000 cases and more than 16,700 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last spring. Roughly 7,600 new cases daily were recorded over the past week, an increase of about 31% from the previous 14 days. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, have risen about 78% over the past two weeks. Roughly 4,080 new patients were admitted to Michigan hospitals each day this week. New case and hospitalization rates are approaching their highest recorded levels since the winter surge, when an average of about 8,300 new daily cases and roughly 4,200 hospitalizations were confirmed in the state.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
“Regeneron’s treatment very likely helped to save the former president’s life. It could save yours too,” Whitmer said. “We are using every mitigation strategy, every medication, and every treatment option to help fight the virus here in Michigan.”