New medical treatment 'Evusheld' can help the immunocompromised fight against COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There's a little-known treatment that can help protect people with weakened immune systems against COVID-19, and can be a game-changer for those not effectively protected by the vaccine.

Currently, there's a lot of confusion surrounding this antibody treatment called Evusheld, and even how to get it.

Before his liver transplant in 2020, Ray Hoffman had dropped down to 110 pounds.

"They said a couple more hours if I hadn't gone to the hospital, I'd have been dead," he said.

Hoffman is now one of seven million immunocompromised Americans who has to be extremely careful not to get COVID-19. Vaccines don't offer this group as much protection.

"If I go to the store, I go anywhere, I always wear my mask because I know with my immune suppressant, you know, suppressant drugs and my immune vulnerability, I didn't even want to take a chance," Hoffman said.

So when his doctor offered a recently authorized antibody treatment called Evusheld he took the two injections.

"Evusheld is the combination of two medications given together," said Faiza Morado, PharmD with Keck Medicine of USC. "So what they do is bind to specific receptors in your body to prevent the virus from attaching."

Morado is an infectious disease pharmacist. She said the immunocompromised should be taking advantage of this drug, but largely are not.

The Biden administration purchased enough doses to fully treat 850,000 people. Yet the reason Evusheld is ignored may be due to lack of awareness and uncertainty due to changing guidance.

"New evolving data does add to the confusion," Morado said.

At first patients were told to wait several months after vaccination to get it. Now there's no waiting period. Last month, the FDA advised doctors to double the dose because studies showed that it provides more protection against the omicron variant.

Also others with rheumatoid arthritis, uncontrolled HIV and those who take high dose cortico-steroids may be eligible, but don't know they are.

"Because there's a lack of communication to that general population," Morado said. "Perhaps that's why we see less than anticipated use."

"The hope is that even if you do get COVID that you're not going to have a severe infection because you've got these antibodies already in your system," said Dr. Shireesha Dhanireddy with University of Washington Medicine.

The federal government oversees distribution. Morado says your healthcare provider can tell you where to get it.

"It is available at select locations," she said.

Side effects include headache, fatigue and cough. Evusheld can provide protection for at least six months, but new studies are underway to determine when patients will need additional injections.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.