COVID-19 therapeutic being distributed to Texas hospitals in two phases

Gov. Greg Abbott met with local officials in Lubbock Thursday and provided an update on the distribution of bamlanivimab to acute care hospitals across every geographic region of the state, including hospitals in Lubbock.

Produced by the Eli Lilly & Company, bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 that has proven to be 95 percent effective in patients who have been infected with the virus.

Weekly shipments of bamlanivimab have been provided to the state at no cost through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The drug has been shown to prevent hospitalizations in some patients when used before they become very sick, the governor said.

The initial allocation – phase one – focuses on hospitals statewide, the governor said. Phase two may be broader and include other facilities such as nursing homes and infusion centers, he added.

DSHS has prioritized communities with high COVID-19 burdens for the initial allotment through a formula that includes total new case counts in the area, new COVID-19 hospital admissions and total COVID-19 hospital patients.

“This therapy drug will help prevent hospitalizations and reduce the strain on our healthcare system and workers,” Abbott said.

Despite how “encouraging these advancements are,” the governor urged all Texans “to continue to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands.” There is “still no substitute for personal responsibility,” he added, “especially as we head into the holiday season.”

Bamlanivimab is being administered to outpatients over age 12 who present mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms, and to patients who are “at higher risk of severe disease.”

Hospitals that were allocated doses should have received or will be receiving calls about their allocations over the next few days from AmerisourceBergen, the distributor that also handles remdesivir.

Remdesivir, initially distributed throughout the state in June and July, resulted in negative side effects among patients. Initially an investigational drug developed to treat Ebola, according to reports published by the Guardian and BioSpace, among others, 25 percent of patients presented serious side effects from taking remdesivir.

“About 25 percent of patients receiving it have severe side effects, including multiple-organ dysfunction syndrome, septic shock, acute kidney injury, and low blood pressure. Another 23 percent demonstrated evidence of liver damage on lab tests.”

By July, six rounds of remdesivir had been distributed to 157 hospitals across Texas. The drug was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Hospitals can accept or decline their allocation of bamlanivimab, the governor said, and the declined doses will be reallocated to other hospitals.

As of Nov. 17, there have been 9.5 million molecular tests of the coronavirus conducted in Texas, according to the state Department of State Health Services. Among the 9.5 million tested, roughly 1 million tested positive. Of those who tested positive, approximately 889,099 people recovered.

The state is reporting 19,883 fatalities attributed to the coronavirus. The database does not distinguish between fatalities resulting solely from the coronavirus or from those who died from other diseases who also tested positive for the coronavirus.

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