St. Joseph’s/Candler hopes new antibody treatment will keep people out of hospital


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Doctors at St. Joseph’s/Candler have their hands on a new COVID-19 treatment that uses antibodies to keep high-risk patients from getting sicker.

The treatment, called Bamlanivimab, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration just over a week ago.

“Essentially, this a man-made antibody that attaches to the coronavirus and helps it from being able to go inside our cells,” said Dr. Mark Coffey, head of the Emergency Department at St Joseph’s/Candler. “And so the thought is that’ll help patients get better sooner and require less hospitalization.”

Coffey says a good candidate for this drug is someone who is a high risk for bad outcomes, but early on enough in their infection that symptoms are mild.

“Initially, it was being given to folks that were in the hospital, so the sicker patients with coronavirus,” said Coffey.

“It wasn’t showing any benefit, but there was some benefit if it’s given early for those patients that aren’t quite as sick,” he added, “that don’t need oxygen yet.”

The treatment, generally known as monoclonal antibodies, has been given to 10 patients at Candler Hospital, all of whom are being monitored from home.

“This was authorized through emergency use because it did show some good results, but it’s still early on,” he said. “So I’m optimistic that this will be very helpful, but it’s just too early to know how much this will really change things.”

Coffey says they are closely monitoring these patients for bad outcomes, but this treatment has been used before, just not for coronavirus. In the past, doctors have used it to treat various infections and even cancer.

“The fact that this has been used in the past, and used safely, is encouraging,” said Coffey.

Coffey says having a treatment at their disposal is helpful, but preventing infection altogether is the goal. His recommendations continue to be to wear a mask, wash your heads and keep your distance.

“The trick is just try not to get it,” said Coffey.

Local hospitalizations are at a monthly high with more than 70 COVID-19 patients being treated
in Chatham County alone.

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