New COVID-19 drug helps Grand Island man recover

Published: Nov. 27, 2020 at 9:22 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - CHI Health started administering an emergency-use drug recently authorized by the FDA, it’s a new preventative treatment to help keep high risk COVID-19 patients from developing severe symptoms.

CHI Health has received over 1,700 doses of the medication, and they’ve already treated patients including Grand Island resident Jason Soria.

“I’m just thankful I was able to get that, and main thing was so I didn’t end up being hospitalized,” said Soria.

The 39-year-old tested positive last week after his wife contracted the virus.

“I went and got tested the next day, and I could not smell anything, so that was kind of the indicator right there,” Soria said.

Soria’s wife who is also a healthcare provider recommended he consult a doctor about getting the new drug, since he has a greater chance of developing complications from being overweight and having diabetes.

“Although it provides the best benefit for patients 65 years and older with multiple comorbidities, you know, younger to middle-aged patients with certain disease states or risk for being hospitalized, certainly could benefit,” said David Schmidt, Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services at CHI Health.

A few days later, Soria received the drug named Bamlanivimab at CHI Health St. Francis. It stops an antibody found in the virus from gaining access to the host cells. It gives the immune system time to react and combat the virus, and It is proven to provide symptom relief two times faster than a placebo.

“After 72 hours, I just started getting better. I started having more energy,” Soria said. “I really wanted to go out but my wife was like no. You’re quarantined for 10 days, you’re not going anywhere.”

The treatment requires a one-time hour long transfusion of 700 milligrams. Doctors will monitor patients after the procedure for possible side effects like an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.

Soria relied on his faith to get through this situation.

“I put my trust in, my cares, my worries, my fears in God,” Soria said. “We are human, so we fear. We have anxiety but I put my trust and my faith, hope in God and hoping that these things were going to work out.”

He also trusted his wife and doctor’s expertise when deciding to take this fairly new drug.

“My doctor and my bride had done a lot of research. This is what worked, so let’s do it on you, and I trust my doctor and I trust my bride as well,” Soria said.

Soria urges everyone to do what they can to protect themselves and others from this potentially fatal virus.

“This is a real thing. This is something that happens. You can take all the precautions in the world as my wife does as a healthcare provider, she takes all the precautions in the world and you can still get it,” Soria said. “It’s not something that we live in fear of, but something we need to be wise about and cautious about and wear our masks and do what we can to protect others.”

CHI Health has several transfusion sites for people to get the drug at its hospitals including Grand Island and Kearney. People will need to test positive, be high risk, and be referred by a doctor to get it. People who are already hospitalized and in need of oxygen do not qualify for the drug, because it could potentially cause more harm than good.

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