Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) has announced that it is expanding community access to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' REGN-COV2 experimental treatment, a national clinical trial that is testing a new dual-action antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19. SMH was the first hospital in Florida to enroll hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the trial.
On Monday, the hospital opened the trial to people who have been infected with the novel coronavirus, but who aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized. The news of the trial expansion comes as the U.S. recorded 150,000 deaths from COVID-19, and the state of Florida also reported a record 216 deaths on Tuesday, including 15 in Manatee County and one in Sarasota County.
“We’re very excited about this trial, which involves the first antiviral antibody cocktail specifically designed to attack a critical part of the coronavirus, the spike protein that attaches to human cells,” Dr. Manuel Gordillo, medical director of Sarasota Memorial’s Infection Prevention and Control Department and principal investigator for the Sarasota trial, said in a release. “In early laboratory tests, it completely obliterated the coronavirus at relatively low concentrations.”
Since the start of the trial two weeks ago, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has enrolled 19 hospitalized patients, and enrolled its first outpatient on Monday. If the cocktail proves effective, Gordillo says, it may lessen the severity of the disease, reduce hospitalizations and complications and, ultimately, help stop the spread of the virus in the community. In addition to Sarasota Memorial, there are three other hospitals in Florida and 150 research sites in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Chile participating in REGN-COV2 trials.
To participate in the trial, patients must have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous two days and experienced at least one symptom within the past five days. Participants who meet the criteria will be screened by Sarasota Memorial Hospital's research team and, if approved, randomly chosen to receive a single intravenous treatment of either the antibody cocktail or a placebo that day or the following day. Patients will then return home with ongoing monitoring and standardized care. Researchers will follow up with phone calls, and nurses will collect nasopharyngeal and blood samples to document how the virus is progressing.
For information, call the Sarasota Memorial Clinical Research Center at (941) 917-2225, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Depending on interest, enrollment may be limited.