CUMBERLAND – Cumberland Emergency Medical Services is now providing in-home monoclonal antibody infusions for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and meet certain criteria that put them at higher risk.
To receive the infusions, individuals must be 12 years old or older, have mild to moderate symptoms within the last 10 days of a positive test, and be at high risk for progressing to severe disease.
Chief of Emergency Medical Services John Pliakas said some of the conditions placing an individual at high risk for disease progression include older age, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive diseases, or the use of immunosuppressive medications.
“All along, we have been heavily involved in the town’s response to COVID-19 through testing, vaccination, etc. so this was the natural progression,” he said. “A paramedic goes to the home, assesses the patient, makes sure they meet the criteria, screens the patient and then the infusion is administered over 20 minutes and then they need to be observed and monitored for an hour after that to make sure they don’t have a reaction.”
Pliakas said Cumberland EMS began the work last Friday, Sept. 17, and had administered the monoclonal antibody infusion to about six people as of Monday, Sept. 20. So far there have been no complications or reported issues with the infusions.
“Their vital signs are checked every 10 minutes during the infusion and for an hour afterwards,” Pliakas said. “They are monitored very closely.”
According to Cumberland’s EMS, a monoclonal antibody is a lab-produced protein that functions like the antibodies made by the body in response to infection. By binding to a specific molecule, known as the antigen, on the virus, the administration of monoclonal antibodies can enhance or restore the immune response against the virus.
Cumberland EMS states that patients with COVID-19 who receive monoclonal antibodies generally have milder symptoms and are less likely to require hospitalization. The administration of monoclonal antibodies can cut the risk of hospitalization and death if given early enough after testing positive. Most patients begin to feel noticeably better within 24 hours of receiving their infusion.
Cumberland EMS is currently the only EMS agency providing the monoclonal antibody within the state, said Pliakas. The drug itself is currently paid for by the government.
Pliakas said it is difficult to say how many people will receive the treatment due to uncertainty of COVID-19 rates.
“We are listed as a health provider on the health department website as of late Friday, so I am sure the numbers will increase,” he said.