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

Just Posted

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Most Read