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

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

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

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Most Read