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Essentia Health offers new COVID-19 treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined it is reasonable to believe bamlanivimab may be effective in certain patients. In one trial study, it was found to lower the possibility of patients needing an emergency room or hospital visit.

Essentia Health St. Joseph's Medical Center Exterior Dusk2.jpg
Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Essentia Health is offering a new treatment for those diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for severe complications and hospitalization.

The drug bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody recently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It must be given within 10 days of the start of symptoms and as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 test.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that help the body protect itself against viruses. Bamlanivimab is made specifically to act against the COVID-19 virus.

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Patients must meet certain criteria set by the FDA to qualify for the treatment. There is a limited supply of bamlanivimab, so it is being allocated by federal and state agencies.

More than 200 appointments are available each week across Essentia Health, which includes among other places such as Duluth and Fargo, the Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center, 523 N. Third St., Brainerd.


Those with a positive COVID-19 test at any Essentia Health site are automatically screened for the FDA’s criteria. Those who were tested at other sites can call 1-833-769-1524 to be screened. Health care providers can refer a patient by calling Essentia Health’s STAT Doc line.

Due to the limited supply of the drug, eligible patients are randomly chosen by a computer for treatment, who are then contacted by a registered nurse from Essentia Health to schedule an exam and an intravenous infusion.

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Bamlanivimab treatment was authorized by the FDA for patients age 12 or older who are at high risk for severe complications and/or hospitalization. Children must weigh at least 88 pounds.

Qualified patients include those who have the COVID-19 virus, are within 10 days of beginning mild to moderate symptoms and meet at least one risk factor identified by the FDA.

The FDA defined high risk as patients who meet at least one of these criteria:

  • Body mass index (BMI) of 35 or more;

  • Chronic kidney disease (consider hemodialysis patients);

  • Diabetes;

  • Immunosuppressive disease;

  • Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment (e.g. rheumatology patients, patients with inflammatory bowel disease on Humira or other immunosuppressive therapy);

  • Age 65 or older;

  • Age 55 or older and have cardiovascular disease, hypertension or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory disease;

  • Age 12 to 17 and have BMI in 85th percentile or higher for age and gender-based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth chart; sickle cell disease; congenital or acquired heart disease; neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. cerebral palsy); medical-related technological dependence not related to COVID-19 (e.g. tracheostomy, gastrostomy or positive-pressure ventilation); or asthma, reactive airway or other chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication for control.

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