Antibody therapy administered at Tuomey to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations; Tuomey has administered more than 100 therapies to community members


At age 78, Pat Pike, who lives in Sumter, has never been a woman who let grass grow under feet.

So, when she woke up on Nov. 30 with chest congestion, she feared bronchitis and called her doctor, Cindy Reese. She then went to a local emergency care clinic to get tested, when Reese called her back and said to get a rapid COVID-19 test as well.

Her results came back positive, but as she prepped for the worst, she got another call from Prisma Health seeing if she wanted to take part in the Bamlanivimab treatment. She called her daughter, Tammy Hood, who after checking on the treatment advised her mother to take part since the window of opportunity was so small.

Hood drove her mother to Prisma Health Richland Hospital that Wednesday and noticed she had a cough and her voice sounded like a man's deep bass baritone. Carrying in a blanket, water and some snacks while Hood waited outside, Pike started the infusion process.

"Everything they told me they were going to do beforehand, they did," Pike said. "They were just outstanding."

Hood said her mother showed signs of feeling better already when she returned to the car, and by the next day, her voice had returned to normal. By that Friday, she was completely healthy.

"To me, this is a miracle drug, and to get it so quickly was amazing," Hood said. "We have told everyone we know about it."

At the time, when Pike received her therapy, Sumter residents had to drive to Columbia. Now, Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital is administering the monoclonal antibody treatments, Bamlanivimab and Regeneron, to high-risk COVID-19 patients. Both drugs were authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Bhatraphol Tingpej, an infectious diseases specialist at Tuomey, thinks patients like Pike can really benefit from these therapies.

The treatment can be used in patients who are 12 years and older weighing at least 80 pounds. It is designed for patients who are at high risk for severe disease but are not currently hospitalized and do not require oxygen therapy because of COVID-19. The treatment is time-sensitive and must be given as soon as possible after a positive result and within 10 days of developing symptoms.

Patients need a physician's referral to receive the antibody treatment. If a community member does not have a primary care physician but has been diagnosed with COVID-19, he or she can access the treatment by scheduling an online exam. The patient will be screened for eligibility and referred for treatment if needed.

Dr. Scott Dilts, emergency medicine physician at Tuomey, added, "There has not been any good outpatient treatment options for patients like Ms. Pike thus far, and we hope to continue to see benefits in faster symptom relief and decreased hospitalizations for those higher-risk patients who choose to take the monoclonal antibody therapy."

Pat fully recovered and never had to be hospitalized for COVID-19. Months later, she counts herself blessed to have received this treatment.

In a clinical trial studying Bamlanivimab and Regeneron in adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were not hospitalized, the treatment was shown to decrease the need for hospitalizations and emergency department visits and to decrease the amount of virus as measured in the patient through molecular testing of the upper respiratory tract. The most common reported side effects in clinical studies have been nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, itching and vomiting. Between 2% and 4% of people experienced side effects. Serious reactions such as allergic reactions or infusion reactions have occurred but are uncommon.

Prisma Health, as of Feb. 21, has treated more than 1,287 patients with monoclonal antibody infusions, including more than 100 at Tuomey. The hospitalization rate for those treated with the therapeutics is under 2.7% across Prisma Health, despite those patients being at higher risk for complications.

For online exams, visit Information about Prisma Health's COVID-19 response is available at