For Immediate Release March 24, 2021

University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health (UM UCH) has opened a COVID-19 Infusion Center on the UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center's Bel Air campus to provide monoclonal antibody treatments to certain people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for serious illness. If given within 10 days of symptom onset, monoclonal antibody treatments have demonstrated the ability to reduce progression to severe COVID-19 and the need for hospitalization.

The new UM UCH COVID Infusion Center is intended for non-hospitalized COVID-19 positive individuals with mild-to-moderate symptoms who also meet specific criteria. Eligible individuals include those who are vulnerable to severe infection because of underlying medical conditions (obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease), or are over the age of 65, or are age 55 and older with cardiovascular disease, hypertension or a chronic respiratory disease. The treatment is given intravenously over a one-hour infusion period and must be administered within 10 days of symptom onset.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system's ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two monoclonal antibody treatments using Emergency Use Authorization (EUA): bamlanivimab (Eli Lilly) and a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, administered simultaneously (Regeneron). Benefits of using monoclonal antibodies are a decrease in hospitalizations and emergency room visits and a decrease in the amount of virus in an infected person's blood. The monoclonal antibody treatments are being used to disrupt progression of early COVID-19 infection in outpatients at UM UCH.

"Having a monoclonal antibody treatment infusion center at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center is an important way for us to treat those diagnosed with COVID-19 who are at high risk for developing serious illness because of certain underlying health conditions. With this new COVID-19 Infusion Center, we are able to give these patients the most appropriate care and reduce the likelihood that they will progress to more severe COVID-19 or the need to be hospitalized," said Fermin Barrueto, Jr., MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer and incident commander for the COVID response at UM Upper Chesapeake Health. "Adding monoclonal antibody treatment capability in Harford County is a positive step forward in treating patients with COVID-19."

Patients who fit the criteria are being referred to the UM UCH COVID Infusion Center by community physicians and urgent care centers only. UM UCH's Comprehensive Care Center team reviews the referrals, and if approved, the team will contact the patient directly to coordinate services as soon as possible. The review process may take up to 24-48 hours. The UM UCH COVID Infusion Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by appointment only.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is also available at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital (BCCFH), where more than 1,000 infusions have been completed to date. The BCCFH is a Maryland Department of Health asset in the state's COVID-19 response, co-operated by the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine.