New COVID-19 antibody treatment makes its way to Minnesota

A lab technologist works on the extracting of RNA from test samples
Brian Howell, a lab technologist, works on the extracting of RNA from test samples in the Mayo virology lab at the Mayo Clinic Superior Drive facility in Rochester, Minn., on March 10.
David Joles/AP

Updated: 11 a.m., Nov. 17 | Posted: 10:50 a.m., Nov. 16

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration gave an emergency use authorization to a drug designed to prevent people with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 from getting sicker. The drug is called a monoclonal antibody, and is similar to one of the treatments President Donald Trump was given when he contracted the virus.

Now that drug is making its way out to states — and in Minnesota, Mayo Clinic is among the health care systems preparing to administer it to patients. The health system is getting its first shipment of the treatment from drug maker Eli Lilly this week.

Dr. Andrew Badley told MPR News that Mayo is expecting a few hundred doses and has set up a special infusion center to administer the IV treatment.

“Because these are patients who have COVID, or they wouldn't be getting the infusion, we want to be very respectful to other patients and so our infusion centers for COVID, which are distinct from our infusion centers that treat patients without COVID, so for example, our chemotherapy patients,” Badley said.

Other hospital systems around Minnesota are also preparing to offer the therapy to eligible COVID-19 patients. The Minnesota Department of Health said it will be distributing about 24 hundred doses of monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID, the state’s initial share of a federal stockpile.

State health ethical guidance released Tuesday says supply is unlikely to meet demand. The guidance recommends not using the drug to treat terminally ill patients. It further recommends using a lottery system to distribute what doses health providers get if they can’t treat everyone.

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