CHICAGO (CBS) — When a person recovers from COVID-19, their body builds up antibodies that can then be used to help others fight the disease.
Now, one pharmaceutical company is using antibodies for treatment at long-term care facilities – by bringing it right to their doors.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reported Monday, those in nursing homes are well-known to be among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. At the Symphony South Shore and Symphony of Joliet nursing homes, there have been more than 30 COVID-19 deaths.
A total of 111 out of the 158 of the residents at the South Shore location tested positive for the virus in late April.
“In these outbreaks, staff have been infected as well as patients,” said Dr. Alexander Stemer, co-chair of the Symphony Health Network COVID-19 Task Force.
Dr. Alexander Stemer is the co-chair of the Symphony Health Network COVID-19 Task Force. Stemer has worked with the National Institutes of Health and Eli Lilly to create the protocol for a COVID-19 study, involving long-term care facilities.
Seven specially-equipped recreational vehicles are part of an on-site mobile infusion clinic.
“And these have all the equipment needed for a pharmacist to compound the infusion and to store it in a refrigerated setting,” Stemer said of the RVs.
The RVs will travel to nursing care facilities where there are outbreaks, across the United States. Those who may have been exposed to someone at a facility with the coronavirus will be given an infusion of antibodies.
“We would like to get the infusion started within a matter of days of the original exposure,” Stemer said.
A total of 2,400 people will take part in phase 3 of the study.
“They will be randomized so that half of the patients and half of the staff will receive the drug and half will receive placebo,” Stemer said, “and that is given as an infusion, which may take as long as two hours.”
Participants will receive the IV in infusion chairs. They will be followed for eight weeks afterward.
“We anticipate we will either prevent the infection or have a mild infection that will not result in terrible damage,” Stemer said.
Dr. Stemer said one of those specially-equipped RVs was on the way to California late Monday. The infusion chairs are brought into large dining areas in the RVs that are no longer in use for such purposes, so the areas can be used solely as an infusion center.