UPMC to study omicron variant, announces new research guiding COVID-19 treatment

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As scientists are wondering if an effective treatment for COVID will work on the new omicron variant, UPMC is talking about new research that could treat infected patients more efficiently.

UPMC performed the first and largest clinical trial in the world to compare different methods of administering monoclonal antibodies.

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“What we found is that subcutaneous injections of Regeneron’s COVID-19 treatment worked essentially as effective as the IV at keeping our patients alive and out of the hospital,” said Dr. Erin McCreary, infectious diseases pharmacist at UPMC and clinical assistant professor in Pitt’s School of Medicine.

McCreary says a shot instead of an infusion of the same dose will allow hospitals to treat twice as many patients.

“It’s easier to administer more staff can administer it, it takes less time,” McCreary said.

But will the treatment for mild and moderate covid still work against the omicron variant? UPMC is ready to find out.

“We will be looking for the variant. We’ll be looking for how the variant interacts with us and how our therapies work. We’ll know quickly. We will change quickly and we’ll share that information with you,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, chief medical officer of UPMC.

Of course, the primary course of action doctors are urging is to get vaccinated.

“It’s very likely that the current vaccines will continue to offer protection against Omicron. Boosters are recommended for all adults and can ensure your immune system remains prepared,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at UPMC.

If you do feel sick, it’s recommended to stay home, get tested and talk to your doctor about potential therapies, particularly monoclonal antibody treatment.

UPMC is aware of long wait times in its emergency rooms. Yealy says they’re continuing to work on ways to get people in and out more quickly.

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