Monoclonal antibodies could be a crucial treatment for high-risk Native Americans who contract COVID-19, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the Whiteriver Service Unit, a healthcare facility on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, found that no patient who received monoclonal antibodies required intensive care or died of the disease.
The patients treated with monoclonal antibodies were also less likely to be hospitalized or transferred to a secondary medical facility.
The findings show that this treatment – which boosts the immune systems of vulnerable patients – is effective for Native Americans, a group hard hit by Covid in the US
Monoclonal antibodies may be an effective treatment for reducing the severity of COVID-19 in high-risk Native American patients, a new study shows. Pictured: A patient is taken from the ambulance to the emergency room in Navajo Nation, Arizona, May 2020
Native Americans are more likely to die from Covid than other US demographics, according to APM Research Lab
Monoclonal antibodies are a common treatment for Covid patients, especially those who are at high risk for severe symptoms.
It works by delivering an infusion of lab-made immune system proteins specifically designed to fight the coronavirus.
For many patients, treatment can prevent a case from becoming severe enough that a patient needs hospital care.
However, previous studies of this treatment have not included Native Americans — who are highly vulnerable to severe Covid cases, data shows.
Native Americans and Natives of Alaska are 3.3 times more likely to have died from Covid than white Americans during the first year of the pandemic, according to a analysis by APM Research Lab.
Facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a similar pattern.
Native Americans have had consistently high death rates during various phases of the pandemic, peaking at 9.2 deaths for every 100,000 people during a week in December 2020.
As a result, clinicians working at the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona saw the need for a study that evaluated how well monoclonal antibody treatments work for this vulnerable population.
The study – published Tuesday in JAMA network opened – targeting high-risk Native American patients in the Whiteriver Service Unit, the primary hospital and public health department in this reservation.
Between December 2020 and February 2021, the healthcare facility treated a total of 983 patients who had received a positive Covid test.
Clinicians screened these patients to assess their suitability for monoclonal antibody treatment.
Eligible patients were older, had a higher body mass index (BMI), and had other pre-existing conditions that increase their risk of severe Covid.
A total of 481 patients met the criteria for monoclonal antibody treatment. Of these, 201 patients decided to undergo the treatment.
Native Americans and Alaska Natives (yellow line) have consistently had higher death rates than other groups during the pandemic, CDC data shows
The patients who received this immune-boosting treatment did much better than those who didn’t, the researchers found.
Patients with monoclonal antibodies were less likely to have an acute medical visit: 29 percent of these patients came to visit compared with 49 percent of patients who did not receive the treatment.
Patients with monoclonal antibodies were also less likely to be hospitalized (17 percent compared with 43 percent of patients with non-monoclonal antibodies) or had less need for transfer to an outside facility for more high-quality care (two percent compared to nine percent).
In addition, none of the patients who received monoclonal antibody treatments were admitted to the ICU or died of Covid.
Eight patients died during the study period – all of whom met criteria for monoclonal antibodies, but did not receive this treatment.
The findings of this study are consistent with other research showing how monoclonal antibodies can prevent Covid cases from becoming severe.
But this study specifically shows that the treatment works well for high-risk Native Americans, a group that hasn’t been studied before.
Researchers found that monoclonal antibody treatments worked well for patients at Whiteriver Service Unit, a healthcare facility on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Pictured: Whiteriver Indian Hospital, part of the facility
The authors noted that one of the driving forces behind the Whiteriver Service Unit’s success may be that patients were able to receive monoclonal antibody treatment fairly early in their battle with Covid — boosting their immune systems at the ideal time to fight severe symptoms. appearance.
The median patient who received monoclonal antibodies did so within one day of their positive Covid test and within two days of experiencing symptoms.
Most patients — more than 75 percent — were treated within three days of the onset of their symptoms.
“The WRSU reduced time to treatment by integrating contact tracing, clinical outreach, in-house molecular testing, and a unified public health and hospital system that streamlined information exchange,” the study authors wrote.
“This approach may not be generalizable, but it is a model for other centralized health systems.”
The authors also noted that monoclonal antibodies “can be used with great effect in relatively limited resources nationwide.”