Hilo hospital’s antibody clinic opens

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Ray Castro paints a new clinic that will be used for COVID-19 antibody treatments at Hilo Medical Center on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

Hilo Medical Center on Tuesday opened its new monoclonal antibody clinic — with limited doses currently available.

Hospital spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said one appointment was scheduled Tuesday, and one dose was on hand.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November issued an emergency use authorization to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals for the use of two antibodies together to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. It’s one of several monoclonal antibody treatments to receive an EUA.

According to the FDA, monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune systems’ ability to fight off harmful pathogens. The antibodies are specifically directed against the coronavirus’ spike protein and designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.

The antibody treatments are authorized for patients over 12 with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for severe illness.

The state Department of Health previously said that treatment with the monoclonal antibodies within the first 10 days of the onset of symptoms could reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Cabatu said the main purpose of setting up the clinic is to prevent hospitalizations and additional stress on the still over-capacity health care system.

HMC’s clinic will deliver the Regeneron treatment in a series of four shots, as opposed to an intravenous transfusion, but only one dose was available Tuesday.

“We are being affected by the supply chain like everyone else in the state,” Cabatu said. “Fortunately, we had an order come through, and we are expecting resupply toward the end of the week.”

About 80 additional doses are anticipated.

“Just like the utilization of vaccines, you will be replenished as you administer the doses,” Cabatu said. “We utilized all that we had, and (that) allowed us to submit an order.”

She estimates the clinic will treat about 10 patients per day.

According to Cabatu, HMC has used antibody treatments since the first wave of the coronavirus infections.

Although doses of the Regeneron treatment are limited, other monoclonals are available, she said. Those alternatives, however, are infusions that must be done in the Emergency Department.

HMC’s clinic, which is located on the ground floor of the hospital by a side entrance, is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and staffed by FEMA-funded personnel.

Cabatu said five staff members arrived Monday.

The clinic is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Patients can be referred to the clinic from the hospital’s emergency room and from other health providers, or patients can call 640-3898 to schedule an appointment.

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Scheduling is available from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Patients must present their official test lab results.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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