BAM! A ray of hope … in the ongoing battle against coronavirus

Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2021

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Even behind a mask, it was obvious that Amy Minor was smiling. Her eyes said so.

Minor, chief clinical officer at Troy Regional Medical Center, had reason to smile.

“We now have a new ray of hope available here at Troy Regional Medical for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of becoming very sick from COVID-19 and with a high probability of hospitalization,” Minor said.

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That ray of hope is in a drug, Bamlanivimab, or more simply said, BAM.

“Bamlanivimab has received emergency clearance from the FDA to be used to fight COVID-19,” Minor said. “We have administered 43 doses here at TRMC and all patients have been able to avoid hospitalization. We are seeing the potential of this drug in keeping high risk patients out of the hospital and not in ICU.”

The criteria to receive the BAM infusion is very specific, Minor said. The patient must have tested positive for COVID-19 and is in within a 10-day window of symptom onset.

Those who are eligible for the new drug, Bamlanivimab, include those who are overweight, with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease, those receiving immunosuppressive medication and those 65 or older.

Younger patients can receive the infusion if they meet other specific criteria.

Minor said the doses of the new drug are administered by IV infusion of the antibodies and must be ordered by a physician.

“The infusion lasts an hour followed by an hour of patient monitoring,” Minor said. “We have a dedicated space and dedicated resources for administering the drug so patients are safe from any kind of exposure.”

Minor said BAM is helping keep high risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital but timing is most important.

“Those who are eligible for the administration of this new drug don’t need to wait to seek medical attention,” she said. “There is a window of symptom onset so those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are at high risk and meet the other criteria should not put off contacting their physician. The earlier, the better.”

Rick Smith, TRMC chief executive officer, said Troy Regional Medical Center is committed to doing its best to provide the newest and most advanced treatments as they become available.

“Bamlanivimab is, as Amy said, a ray of hope in our continuing efforts to help more people,” he said.

Smith encourages each person to do what he or she can to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Wear a mask; wash your hands, keeps social distance and be willing to take the vaccine,” he said.

“It’s going to take all of us doing our part to stop the spread of this virus that continues to claim so many lives.”