Antibody treatment now available for COVID-19 patients in Sask.
Monoclonal antibody treatment is now available for Saskatchewan residents who have tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a release from the province, the treatment is intended to prevent hospitalization in people who are unvaccinated or severely immunosuppressed.
Dr. Satchan Takaya, an infectious disease specialist and the physician lead for the COVID monoclonal antibody project in Saskatchewan, said the province will be using Sotrovimab, which is one of three treatments that have interim authorization through Health Canada.
The government said the one-time treatment is only effective in the very early phase of infection.
Takaya said giving the treatment quickly could stop the initial viral phase before it progresses to something worse and forces the patient into hospital.
Those eligible include COVID-19 patients who are not vaccinated against the virus, immunocompromised patients, patients 55 years or older, or patients over the age of 18 with a high-risk comorbidity. The treatment must be administered within five days of symptoms starting.
“We are looking for not just people that are unvaccinated but people with that are unvaccinated with a risk factor,” Takaya said.
She added vaccinated people who may not have been able to mount a full immune response to the shot – like transplant patients – are also able to get the treatment.
Eligible patients will be identified through case investigation, says the province. Starting Nov. 1, COVID-19 patients will be able to self-assess their eligibility on the province’s website. If they are able to get the treatments, they will be told how to book an assessment. The final decision will be made by a health-care worker.
The treatments will be available in Regina and Saskatoon at Saskatchewan Health Authority testing sites.
Mark Wyatt, assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Health, said the province has an allocation of 1,200 doses of the treatment, with 476 of those doses in Saskatchewan right now.
Though unvaccinated patients are able to get the antibody treatment, the province said it is not considered a substitute for vaccination.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, compared the treatment to getting in a crash while driving on an icy road – vaccines would be comparable to wearing your seatbelt, and the antibody treatment would the ambulance that may or may not arrive in time.
“Other therapeutics that may come in the future would be an added tool to use, especially for fully vaccinated immune suppressed, certainly vaccines are our most effective tool that we should all use right away,” said Shahab.