BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — COVID positive: it’s a result millions of Americans are receiving daily. But now there’s an antibody therapy meant to help prevent people from getting the virus, that has officially arrived in Kern County.
‘Evusheld’ is a pre-exposure medication that is meant to help avoid those who are severely immune-compromised from getting COVID-19 prior to exposure.
However, local health officials said because of the limited supply they are prioritizing those who may not be able to receive a vaccine.
“It’s estimated there are about 7 million immunocompromised individuals in the US, the manufacturer made 700,000 doses. So how they decided to allocate the doses and once it kind of trickles down to the county of Kern. There’s a limited number of people who will be able to get it,” said Dr. Glenn Goldis, Chief Medical Officer at Kern Medical.
Evusheld, made by AstraZeneca, is the first and only antibody therapy, under an emergency use authorization in the United States, to prevent high-risk individuals from getting COVID-19.
What is Evusheld?
AstraZeneca's Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab), a long-acting antibody (LAAB) combination, has received emergency use authorization (EUA) in the US for the pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) of COVID-19, with first doses expected to become available very soon.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the EUA for Evusheld for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents (aged 12 and older who weigh 40kg or more) with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or immunosuppressive medications and who may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination, as well as those individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended. Recipients should not be currently infected with or had recent known exposure to a person infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Dr. Goldis said their hospital is the only site you can receive the doses at in the county.
“We were designated by the state of California to be the only site in Kern County to administer the treatment and that’s likely because we are a public entity, plus we are a safety net facility and have the capacity to perform the procedure.”
Dr. Goldis said the two long monoclonal antibodies are administered as separate injections right after each other: “It actually works by, inserting itself between the virus and the host and it actually prevents the virus from attaching to a potential host.”
Yet only those who are severely or moderately immunocompromised are eligible to receive the doses or those who are going through chemotherapy or high-dose steroids.
“What that really means is individuals who have an underlying blood-born cancer like lymphoma or leukemia, folks who have been in receipt of a transplant organ such as a lung transplant or a kidney transplant.”
Dr. Goldis added it’s meant to protect those who need it most.
“When you think about it, this is the highest risk population. They for one reason or another have an inability to mount an immune response to a viral load, so if they were to become infected, they can get very seriously ill. This medication actually lowers their risk of developing symptomatic COVID by 77 percent.”
Dr. Goldis said they’ve already given out about 20 doses so far, but to help prioritize those who need it most doctors must complete a survey for their patients.