The RAK Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: A US Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment that was used to treat COVID-19 in former US president Donald Trump has arrived in the UAE. The RAK Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah is the first hospital to offer advanced monoclonal antibody treatment in the UAE.

The injection Bamlanivimab developed by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has been authorised for emergency use by the US FDA to treat mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 in non-hospitalised adults with COVID-19 positive result, and who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms or the need for hospitalisation. It is the first drug to be approved that was designed specifically against the new coronavirus.

In case of former President Trump, he had received monoclonal antibodies injection manufactured by another pharamceutical.

In the UAE this treatment was introdued three days ago at RAK Hosptial to prevent severe Sars COV-2 infection in high risk patients. The high-risk group typically includes people above the age of 60, those with co-morbidites such as hypertension, diabetes, those who may have undergone chemotherapy, patients who may have had organ transplants and who are immunocompromised, said Dr Jean March Gauer, CEO of RAK Hospital.

What is monoclonal antibodies treament?

Monoclonal Antibodies (A) are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses and this treatment has shown promise in treating other viral illnesses and holds out a promise in controlling or bringing down severity of COVID-19.

Dr Gauer said, “Prior to developing this injection you might have heard of the Convalscent Plasma Therapy where plasma from recovered patients that contained COVID-19 antibodies was being used in treating the disease. In case of MA, a single cell of the antibody is cloned and multiple copies of it are synthetically produced in the laboratory to be injected in people. This treatment is used as a probhylactic in high-risk category to prevent the disease getting severe.”

Dr Jean March Gauer

Dr Guaer added, “When there’s a virus in your body, like COVID-19, your immune system makes antibodies to fight it off. But it takes time for your body to make antibodies for a new virus — and in the meantime, you could get very sick. A synthetic antibody protocol can expedite the treatment as normally, the antibodies produced by patient’s immune system takes time. The medication consists of antibodies similar to the antibodies of patients who recovered from the disease, thereby allowing an immediate response to the virus and avoid severe disease,” said Dr Gauer.

The process

Explaining the process of administration of the drug, Dr Gauer continued, “We identify high-risk patients and adminster the one-time IV infusion which goes in slowly in a one-hour, out-patient procedure. This is administered in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the virus, The patient’s vital parameters are monitored and he or she needs to be at the hospital for upto three hours. The injection cannot be given to people who are already in a severe or critical stage. This treatmment is not reccommended for people with low odxygen saturtion or those with a respiratory rate >30/minute or heartrate >125/minute or those who require hospital admission. Pregnant women are also not candidates.”

Read more

Commenting on the introduction of the promising new treatment, Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director of the hospital, said, “RAK Hospital is always at the forefront of medical excellence and has therefore taken a very active approach in fighting the pandemic since its onset. This is one more example of our initiative and commitment to offering the best possible care to the community and supporting government efforts.”

The injection is not covered under any insurance.