People in Torbay and South Devon are benefitting from new COVID-19 treatments for those at highest risk in the community
Published: 3 May 2022
Neutralising monoclonal antibodies (nMABs) or antiviral treatments are available for people at the highest risk of severe COVID-19 infection. There is a seven-day service available at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust which works with people referred in to see if they need treatment and what is the best one for them.
This is part of a national programme with other hospitals in Devon also delivering this COVID Medicines Delivery Service. It has been running through this last omicron wave, ten times busier than predicted having assessed over 1300 people since 16 December 2022.
nMABs are an intravenous treatment and are recommended to be available as a treatment option for non-hospitalised adults and children (aged 12 years and above) in the nationally identified highest risk patient cohorts.
More information about the treatments can be found on the NHS England website. This treatment gives a person the antibody to fight the virus, the same Spike Antibody that the vaccination makes your body produce.
In addition to the intravenous treatment, the CMDU at Torbay and South Devon also offers oral antivirals. These stop the virus reproducing and so decrease the harm done by COVID. The oral mediciation Paxlovid has been shown to be very effective and this is a first-choice drug along with the nMAB.
Please note: there are very strict eligibility criteria for these treatments which are not the same as the list of clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding which was used in 2020. Most people will know that they are on the list because they have been informed already.
Dr Joanne Watson, Health and Care Strategy Director and Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Our data shows that the new treatments are extremely effective in helping people recover well at home as well as shortening the severity and length of their illness. Since December we have treated 300 people with oral antivirals and 80 people have attended for infusions.
“These treatments are new for COVID and are being rapidly deployed for those people at risk because of their medical conditions or treatment making them at risk of not responding to the vaccine for COVID. Through the work of the CMDUs, we are learning how to use new treatments effectively.”
Helen, from Totnes, said: “Five days after my partner tested positive for COVID-19, I had symptoms and also had a positive result. I reported the results on the NHS website, and contacted the hospital department I am currently receiving treatment from to let them know. I was recommended to receive antibody treatment which was a great opportunity. The whole process was extremely easy and I was seen very quickly. I have had infusions previously so was familiar with the process.”
Elizabeth, who lives in Bishopsteignton, said: “I had a positive lateral flow result after not feeling well, and reported my result on the NHS app. Within 24 hours I was referred to the clinic and was at the hospital receiving treatment. I was anxious about becoming very unwell beforehand so this was a big help. I was met outside the clinic and had completed the treatment within two hours. I was very relieved to be offered the opportunity.”
Dr Kate Lissett, Deputy Medical Director, said: “Vaccination remains the most effective way to protect people from COVID-19 and minimise the effects if they do become ill. The vaccine works really well and I would encourage everyone to get jabbed and boosted as soon as they are able to do so.
“The antiviral treatment is specifically for those who have been identified as being at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID or being admitted to hospital, this means people who may have a condition which affects their ability to respond to the vaccine, for example, people who are seriously immunosuppressed.
“Through a combination of great vaccination programmes, our early treatment pathway, our COVID-19 virtual ward and the COVID Oximetry @home services provided by our partners in primary care, we are able to ensure that people have access to all the treatments and protections available so that the effects of COVID infection are limited enabling people to receive appropriate treatment and care and be in their own homes.”