By Ryan Running Rabbit, Siksika Health Communications
A relatively new treatment to fight severe COVID-19 outcomes is being used on Siksika Nation in what is believed to be the first doses of monoclonal antibody treatment to be administered on a First Nation in Canada. So, what is it exactly?
“Sotrovimab is an antiviral/monoclonal antibody given through IV infusion for to those experiencing mild to moderate symptoms from COVID-19 infection, and is designed to reduce negative health outcomes and reduce hospitalizations,” Charlene Brough, Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Advisor for Siksika Health Services explains.
At this point on Siksika Nation, two patients have received the treatment, administered by Siksika Health’s Community Paramedics (CPs), who deliver a broad range of diagnostic and treatment services for Siksika Nation, often remotely or within patients’ homes. The team of CPs are specially trained to provide short-term assessment and treatment for low-acuity illnesses, including sotrovimab, under the medical direction of Physicians and Nurse Practitioners.
“Through our partnerships with Alberta Health, AHS, and of course being supported by the Medical Officers of Health with Indigenous Services Canada, we knew this medication and treatment option was coming,” says Brough. “Thankfully, our Community Paramedics, within their scope of practice, can give IV infusions. We just needed to obtain the actual medication and refine protocols specific to Siksika.”
Sotrovimab is a Schedule I antiviral/monoclonal antibody, developed by GlaxoSmithKline Inc., that received Health Canada emergency use authorization in July 2021 for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19. It has been shown to be most effective when administered before the virus has progressed beyond a mild to moderate infection, therefore, individuals who have COVID-like symptoms are being advised to get tested as early as possible (once signs/symptoms develop) to allow sufficient time to determine potential eligibility for sotrovimab treatment.
In an attempt to reduce the negative health effects and poor health outcomes of COVID-19, Siksika Health Services alongside provincial (Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services) and federal (Health Canada and Indigenous Services Canada) partners have developed an expedited approach to offer sotrovimab to Siksika Nation Members
– Siksika Health Services Sotrovimab Protocol
In Alberta, sotrovimab is currently available for specific, eligible people who have a PCR confirmed COVID-19 infection, including: those with pre-existing health conditions, for example people with diabetes who require medication, chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, or an inflammatory condition; some unvaccinated individuals; and immunocompromised people who have had a transplant or received chemotherapy or other immunosuppressive treatment since December 2020.
Importantly, sotrovimab does not replace COVID-19 vaccination. Siksika Health Services strongly encourages all Siksika Nation members, and all people, to receive the vaccine doses they are eligible for, as soon as possible, In addition to immunization, which is available daily on weekdays at Siksika Nation’s Immunization Clinic and via the mobile Immunization Special Forces vehicle, Siksika Health Services plans to continue using the monoclonal antibody treatment when necessary and possible.
For more information on sotrovimab eligibility and use in Alberta, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17753.aspx.