Medical treatment

COVID-19 pandemic: the new medical treatment “Evusheld” can help immunocompromised people to fight against the coronavirus

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — There’s a little-known treatment that can help protect people with weakened immune systems from COVID-19, and can be a game-changer for those who aren’t effectively protected by the vaccine.

Currently, there is a lot of confusion around this antibody treatment called Evusheld, and even how to get it.

Before his liver transplant in 2020, Ray Hoffman had dropped to 110 pounds.

“They said a few more hours if I hadn’t gone to the hospital I would have died,” he said.

Hoffman is now one of seven million immunocompromised Americans who must be extra careful not to catch COVID-19. Vaccines do not offer as much protection to this group.

“If I go to the store, I go anywhere, I always wear my mask because I know with my immunosuppressant, you know, the suppressor drugs and my immune vulnerability, I didn’t even want to take a chance,” Hoffman said.

So when his doctor offered him a recently licensed antibody treatment called Evushield, he took both shots.

“Evosheld is the combination of two drugs given together,” said Faiza Morado, PharmD at USC’s Keck Medicine. “So what they do is bind to specific receptors in your body to prevent the virus from attaching.”

Morado is a pharmacist specializing in infectious diseases. She said people with compromised immune systems should benefit from this drug, but that’s usually not the case.

The Biden administration purchased enough doses to fully treat 850,000 people. Yet the reason Evusheld is ignored may be due to lack of awareness and uncertainty due to changing guidelines.

“New and evolving data adds to the confusion,” Morado said.

At first, patients had to wait several months after vaccination to get it. Now there is no waiting time. Last month, the FDA advised doctors to double the dose because studies showed it offered better protection against the omicron variant.

Other people with rheumatoid arthritis, uncontrolled HIV, and those taking high-dose corticosteroids may also be eligible but don’t know they are.

“Because there’s a lack of communication with that general population,” Morado said. “Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing less usage than expected.”

“The hope is that even if you get COVID, you’re not going to get a serious infection because you already have these antibodies in your system,” said Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy of Washington Medical University.

The federal government oversees distribution. Morado says your healthcare provider can tell you where to get it.

“It’s available in select locations,” she said.

Side effects include headache, fatigue, and cough. Evusheld can provide protection for at least six months, but further studies are underway to determine when patients will need additional injections.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.