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)

B.C.-based clinical trial of COVID-19 antibody ‘very promising,’ says expert

Participation criteria expanded for infusion clinic based at Peace Arch Hospital

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.

Its use for COVID-19 treatment in high-risk patients has interim approval from Health 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.

Haljan hopes to recruit up to 20 patients per day over the next two weeks, in order to complete the study by May 9.

Currently, the medication is being delivered at an infusion clinic set up at Peace Arch Hospital, but Haljan said the hope is to establish more clinics this week, particularly in the Fraser East area.

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.

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

The study, he noted, “is asking questions nobody else in the world is asking right now about this drug.”

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



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

CoronavirusSurreywhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

MBSS visual art students helped make the Cottage Restaurant’s protective barrier stand out for the summer. (Barry Coulter photo)
Artists give Cottage patio blocks a blast of colour

Mount Baker Secondary School visual art students gave the protective barrier at… Continue reading

Stuart Ashley Jones, 56, was at Grand Forks provincial court for sentencing on May 5, 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks man shot by police during massive flood sentenced to house arrest

Stuart Ashley Jones was shot by a Grand Forks Mountie after ramming two police cruisers in May 2018

SD5 and SD6 have added electric school buses to their transportation fleets. Photo courtesy B.C. Government.
East Kootenay school districts add electric buses to fleets

Two school districts in the East Kootenay are adding an electric school… Continue reading

Two Pileated Woodpeckers sharing the bounty! Kathleen Opal photo
Urban wildlife Part XI: The East Kootenay birds (and others) of 2021

The work of local photographers in the Advertiser throughout 2021. Part XI. With links to Parts I-X

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read