Nine patients at risk of developing severe COVID-19 have used a treatment at Albury Base Hospital to reduce their likelihood of hospitalisation.
Albury Wodonga Health announced the opening of its COVID day centre at the hospital today, which would be one of a few sites across Victoria providing Sotrovimab infusion treatment.
Speaking on the single-dose antibody treatment, Albury Wodonga Health's infectious diseases physician Dr Justin Jackson said Sotrovimab mimicked the natural antibodies produced by our immune systems to defend against COVID-19.
"These antibodies bind to the virus and stop it from entering host cells," he said
"This is an important new weapon in our fight to protect people who have poor immune systems and become infected with COVID from developing severe disease."
The intravenous treatment takes approximately two hours, allowing for 30 minutes of infusion therapy and 60 minutes of post-infusion observation.
There are four treatment bays available, allowing up to eight patients per day to receive treatment.
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Dr Jackson said Sotrovimab was administered to COVID-positive patients early in the illness - within the first five days of symptom onset.
"It is extremely important to identify people early in the course of infection, because that is when the virus is most active, and when we have the greatest chance of preventing progression to an inflammatory response, lung damage and the need for hospital admission," he said.
Albury Wodonga Health said the medication was only available to those who were not likely to have their own antibodies to fight infection and were at high risk of progression to severe disease, including immunosuppressed people or unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people.
Albury Wodonga Health said it would assess patients for eligibility via phone consultation.
"Important risk factors include being overweight, over 55 years of age, having diabetes, kidney disease, organ transplants or being on immunosuppressive medication," Albury Wodonga Health said in a statement.
Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios said there was a dedicated area where patients could receive the Sotrovimab infusions.
"Along with direct access to parking, the area has its own ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and is isolated from the rest of the Hospital," he said.
"These are crucial factors which minimise the risk of airborne transmission.
"As all patients in the COVID Day Centre will have tested COVID-positive, staff will be wearing full personal protective equipment and use standard infection control protocols."
Mr Kalimnios said that vaccination remained the most important way to protect the community from COVID-19.
"However this treatment provides another tool to reduce the need for hospitalisation and death from the virus," he said.
"We are one of a few sites across Victoria that is administering this therapy, and are pleased by the opportunity to protect vulnerable community members who haven't yet been able to access vaccinations."
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