At a press conference this morning, UPMC experts spoke about the Delta variant of COVID-19, as well as the new prophylactic use of monoclonal antibodies for people who have been exposed to the virus.
UPMC has been using monoclonal antibodies to treat patients with COVID-19 since late last year. The Food and Drug Administration recently expanded its emergency use authorization for Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody to be given to patients who have been exposed to the virus and are at a high risk for developing COVID-19.
“UPMC will soon offer this antibody as what is called ‘post-exposure prophylaxis’ in outpatient and inpatient settings for eligible patients,” said Erin McCreary, Pharm.D., UPMC infectious diseases pharmacist and clinical assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh Division of Infectious Diseases. “This expansion of monoclonal antibody use is an example of how UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh have been at the forefront of developing and implementing transformative therapies to treat and prevent COVID-19.”
Once available, patients may receive monoclonal antibodies if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, and who may be at risk for serious illness. Patients who are fully vaccinated but whose immune systems may not respond well to the vaccine may also qualify to receive monoclonal antibodies if exposed.
Preventing infection has become even more important with the highly transmissible Delta variant circulating. This variant is present in all the communities UPMC serves.
“It takes discipline and persistence to thwart COVID-19’s evolution,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology. “Staying safe from the Delta variant requires the same response we’ve established over the last nearly 18 months, including masking, distancing, early diagnosis and vaccination.”
While there have been instances of vaccinated people becoming sick with COVID-19, often referred to as breakthrough infections, the cases are rare and often result in less serious illness.
“The vaccines currently available – J&J, Moderna and Pfizer – are effective against the Delta variant. And I cannot stress enough how safe they are. They do exceptionally well at preventing serious complications, like hospitalization and death,” Snyder said. “Vaccination is a cornerstone to blunting the impact of the pandemic on our communities. We strongly encourage everyone in our community who is eligible to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”
To find a vaccine clinic near you and schedule an appointment, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com.
If you tested positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies. Call 866-804-5251 or visit UPMC.com for more information.