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Hundreds of ‘high-priority’ Covid-19 patients receive game-changing antibody drug

Stock image.

Stock image.

Eilish O'Regan

More than 450 ‘high-priority’ Covid-19 patients have received a game-changing antibody drug to cut their risk of hospitalisation as Ireland strives to live with the virus.

It is one of the new tools available this year as overwhelmed hospitals struggle to cope with the current wave.

However, another form of treatment, the antiviral Paxlovid, will not be here until the end of next month, when it is hoped that the latest wave will be subsiding.

The HSE confirmed the antibody treatment Sotrovimab, which only became available in this wave, is now prescribed in hospitals around Ireland to Covid-19 positive patients who are considered high-priority.

It is administered over 30 minutes through an intravenous drip and works by binding to the Covid spike protein and preventing it from multiplying in the body.

A HSE spokeswoman said that as of March 22, some 455 doses of Sotrovimab have been administered across 25 hospital sites.

She said “all hospitals in Ireland are provided with access to this therapeutic and supply is available to meet current demand”.

“We have sufficient volumes in stock to meet the forecasted needed for the next number of months.

“The chief clinical officer is in regular contact with hospital groups to review access and clinical pathways and no significant concerns have been highlighted.

“Referral pathways have been implemented to support GPs in referring patients into hospitals to receive this therapeutic.

“Owing to the increased likelihood for people with underlying illness to experience severe Covid-19, the advisory group developed a prioritisation framework and clinical guidelines to aid decision-making in the prescribing of novel Covid-19 therapeutics.

“The prioritisation framework includes considerations of equity and ethics, and outlines that those who are at high-risk or very high-risk of experiencing severe Covid-19 symptoms, hospitalisation, or intensive care support, should be prioritised.”

She said Ireland has had two deliveries of Sotrovimab to date totalling 2,016 doses received. A further 2,016 doses are expected over the coming months.

Meanwhile, the other Covid treatment, the antiviral Paxlovid, is not due here until the end April despite the current surge.

The HSE spokeswoman said current indications are that deliveries of Paxlovid will likely be received in late April, and exact delivery dates will be communicated once confirmed.

The drug is taken in three pill doses by someone infected with Covid-19 twice a day for five days.

Ireland and other countries are grasping at any advance in the drive to start living with Covid-19.

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