We have all been following the news on vaccine rollouts, and frankly you may have been as disappointed as I have been with how slowly this mobilization has been progressing. With the exception of West Virginia, the state by state rollouts have fallen short of most experts’ hopes or expectations. Yet, we are making progress. If you live in Illinois and qualify as a category 1B or 1C, it is important to now reach out to your local departments of public health and get on their electronic lists. Once you do that you can expect to receive an email or text of the next opportunity to become vaccinated.
The first group to have received vaccinations, category 1A, included healthcare workers and residents of long-term senior living facilities. Category 1b now includes frontline essential workers and 75+ year-olds, but CDC has added 1C to this next tier of availability, which means 65-74 year-olds, younger people with underlying medical conditions and other essential workers qualify. You need to get on a list to be called, so check with your local departments of public health on-line to get on those lists. They will ask how you wish to be notified, text or email, and you simply need to be watchful. A colleague recommends that you may also consider going to vaccination sites at end of day just to see if they have excess vaccine because some who have been called simply did not get to the site.
And there is other “good news.” Eli Lilly, the Indiana drug maker, has tested a monoclonal antibody as a prophylaxis against COVID, and the results are promising. In nursing homes, residents and staff showed a 57% lower chance of getting COVID-19 than those who had been infused with placebo. Among the residents specifically, the risk was reduced by 80%. Only four residents died of complications from COVID, and these all were folks in the placebo group. As a result of this in population trial, Lilly has received emergency use authorization for this antibody cocktail. It is not a vaccine, but it can be used to help supplement vaccine where there is simply not enough vaccine to cover all of the populations. What is remarkable is that this infusion was to be used in treatment of infections, but it also seems to have a genuine level of protection against infection as well.
Another company, Regeneron, has been authorized for emergency of bamlanivimab, an antibody cocktail to be used in treating COVID in individuals more at risk for severe COVID disease. There is added good news also with one of the approved vaccines. You may have heard of the more virulent variants of the COVID virus that are surfacing. At least Moderna is adapting a second shot of their vaccine to be particularly attuned to this variant.
The latest “breaking news” is about a trial using an oral anti-inflammatory called colchicine. In the past it has been used for rheumatoid disorders like gout, but with COVID it seems to tackle the “cytokine storm” you may recall being discussed in the news…particularly with younger patients. In topline data from these early trials on more than 4,000 patients, researchers found that those who received doses of colchicine had:
- 25% fewer hospitalizations
- 50% less need for mechanical ventilation
- 44% fewer deaths.
We will continue to keep you apprised of late breaking news about our global pandemic, and I personally hope we continue to hear promising news as we all look forward to “rounding the bend.” Please continue to exercise all precautions and stay safe.
Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.