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COVID-19 Scan for May 18, 2021

Bamlanivimab cuts hospitalization, deaths in high-risk COVID outpatients

Fewer high-risk outpatients with mild or moderate COVID-19 needed hospitalization or died within 28 days when given bamlanivimab soon after infection compared with their matched peers, finds an observational study yesterday in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

University of Pittsburgh researchers compared the outcomes of 232 COVID-19 outpatients given the monoclonal antibody (mAb) from Dec 9, 2020, to Mar 3, 2021, with those of 1,160 coronavirus patients of similar age and health status who didn’t receive the drug.

Bamlanivimab reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 60% and  was associated with a significantly lower risk-adjusted likelihood of hospitalization or death by 28 days (odds ratio [OR], 0.40). Data also showed lower odds of hospitalization or an emergency department (ED) visit without hospitalization in treated patients (OR, 0.54).

Patients 65 years and older appeared to benefit the most from bamlanivimab; they were nearly three times less likely to be admitted to a hospital or die than their untreated matches. Likewise, those who received the drug soon after infection also appeared to benefit more than those who received it later in the course of their disease.

Few patients had adverse reactions to the infusion, and all were mild. Mean patient age was 67 years, 56% were female, and 14% were hospitalized or died.

“These data support health systems’ investment of resources in developing infrastructure for mAb infusions,” the authors wrote. “Additionally, the potential benefits of mAb could be explored in patients cared for in the ED and those early in hospital admission without severe disease.”

The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for bamlanivimab given in combination with another monoclonal antibody within 10 days of symptom onset in patients 65 years and older with mild or moderate COVID-19 or in patients with a higher risk for severe infection, such as those with a body mass index of at least 40 kg/m2 or an underlying illness.

“If there’s one key take-away that we’re seeing in our data, it’s this: If you get COVID-19 and are at higher risk for severe illness, ask your doctor about monoclonal antibodies,” senior study author Graham Snyder, MD, said in a University of Pittsburgh news release. “Don’t hesitate. Early treatment, while your symptoms are still mild, may be essential.”
May 17 Open Forum Infect Dis study
May 17 University of Pittsburgh news release

Interest in home births appears to rise with pandemic

The proportional volume of weekly Google searches relating to home births rose 239% in the United States and 53% in the United Kingdom since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a research letter yesterday in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers used Google Trends to measure weekly relative search volumes (RSVs) from Mar 3, 2019, to Nov 1, 2020. RSVs show how much a search term was logged in relation to the total number of queries on a scale of 0 to 100 (with 100 being the highest). In the United States and the United Kingdom, the average RSV scores were 53.5 and 39.0, respectively, compared with 40.6 and 31.2 before the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend may have been smaller in the United Kingdom because the nation has a higher baseline of home births and a more integrated home birth system, the researchers note.

Data showed higher RSVs in the earlier months of the pandemic, with 8 of 9 of the highest US RSVs and 6 of 9 of the highest UK RSVs falling between March and May 2020. Even after the spike, though, RSVs have maintained a greater level than pre-pandemic trends, according to the researchers.

“This increased information-seeking parallels media coverage and anecdotal reports from home birth practitioners, who have noted heightened demand for home birth services,” the researchers write. “As individuals increasingly rely on digital sources of health-related information, tools like the one used in this study are important for understanding information-seeking behaviors.”
May 17 JAMA Netw Open study

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