A nurse preps bamlanivimab for infusion at Peace Arch Hospital, where COVID-19 patients are receiving the antibody as part of a clinical trial. (Contributed photo)

A nurse preps bamlanivimab for infusion at Peace Arch Hospital, where COVID-19 patients are receiving the antibody as part of a clinical trial. (Contributed photo)

Access to Surrey-based COVID-19 antibody study expands

Infusion clinic underway at Peace Arch Hospital, more anticipated for Fraser East

The clinical trial of a drug that one expert says looks “very promising” for use in stopping the progression of COVID-19 moved into a new phase this week, with the opportunity to participate now open to all eligible patients in the Fraser Health region.

Dr. Gregory Haljan – head of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s critical care unit and Fraser Health’s regional medical director for research – said Monday (April 26) that around 300 COVID-19-positive patients are sought to receive the medication bamlanivimab as part of the B-EPIC (Bamlanivimab-Emergency Passive Immunity in COVID-19) study.

READ MORE: Clinical trial of COVID-19 drug for severe cases to be carried out at Surrey hospital

Designed in January, the study aims to determine if the antibody can prevent those who get COVID-19 from getting so sick they need to be hospitalized – and if it can, “well, we really need that right now,” Haljan said.

“We’re in the third wave,” Haljan said of the pandemic. “This is the worst it’s been (in the SMH intensive care unit) yet. We’re working about as hard as we can right now in the ICU.

“This third wave has been a real kick in the pants.”

Researchers also want to learn if bamlanivimab can reduce the long-term effects of the illness.

One study participant, Steve Scott – who is sales manager at Peace Arch News – said he felt dramatically better 24 hours after receiving a bamlanivimab infusion in early April at Peace Arch Hospital, where the first trial clinic was set up.

“All symptoms were gone, ” Scott said, of the aches, headache and fatigue he felt prior to testing positive for COVID-19. “And in 48 hours, I had my strength back.”

Scott said he was contacted about participating in the trial two days after receiving his test result. Told of what it involved and possible risks – the most significant of which is allergic reaction, ranging from mild to anyaphylaxis – he opted in, and went for the infusion the following day.

The intravenous process took about an hour, followed by a one-hour period where he was monitored for any reaction, Scott said.

Scott, 59, said both his wife and daughter declined to participate in the trial, and that he was told recruiting has been a tough sell for the researchers. There were just two others receiving the infusion while he was there.

Haljan – noting the study is “asking questions nobody else in the world is asking right now about this drug” – said he hopes to recruit up to 20 patients per day over the next two weeks, in order to complete the study by May 9. He also anticipated more infusion clinics would open this week, particularly in the Fraser East area, to accommodate additional participants.

He emphasized that while the medication only has interim approval, it is “very safe,” and, it has been found to “retain activity” against the U.K variant of COVID-19; the most prevalent variant in Canada.

The drug is designed to block the COVID-19 virus from attaching to and entering cells, thus potentially preventing the illness from worsening in newly diagnosed patients.

“Once you get an infection, it’s too late for a vaccine to work,” Haljan said. “What we want to do is provide those antibodies (that a vaccine typically triggers a body to produce) early in the disease, to give the immune system a head start.”

Recruiting for the study opened in March to residents of Surrey, White Rock and Delta. It then expanded to include patients living in Burnaby, Langley, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Haljan said participants must begin the therapy within three days of a positive COVID-19 test, or within 10 days of their first symptoms.

Eligible participants are those 65 and older, or between 18 and 64 years old who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have at least one illness or condition that puts them at risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 infection.

READ MORE: U.K variant of coronavirus detected at seven schools in Surrey, Delta

Scott said for him, getting involved was about contributing to the fight against the virus, “to move this along.”

“Really, what I wanted to do was just try and help,” he said.

He added he still plans to get the vaccine, but said he was told to put at least 90 days between receiving the infusion and doing so.

To sign up for the trial or for more information, visit www.bepicstudy.ca



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSurreyWhite Rock

 

Dr. Gregory Haljan is leading a clinical trial of a COVID-19 antibody. (Contributed photo)

Dr. Gregory Haljan is leading a clinical trial of a COVID-19 antibody. (Contributed photo)

Just Posted

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at South Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey public hearing theatrics juvenile

They are called public hearings for a reason. Not public spectacles.

Al French flew the Langley Museum of Flight SE5A to celebrate the 100th birthday of D-Day pilot Jack Logan. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: D-Day pilot’s 100th birthday is celebrated with a fly-past at Langley museum

Jack Logan started his career flying in a biplane trainer and ended as captain of a jumbo jet

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

Most Read