Health Minister Robin Swann hailed the work of staff involved in delivering breakthrough drugs to COVID-19 patients most at risk of serious illness.
Since mid-December, more than 1,700 patients across Northern Ireland have received neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (nMABs) and antiviral treatments in Health and Social Care’s (HSC) outpatient COVID-19 treatment (OCT) wards ), or oral antiviral medications to take at home. .
During a visit to the OCT at Mater Hospital in Belfast, the Minister thanked the team responsible for examining and providing treatment to patients most at risk of contracting COVID-19 infection.
Mr Swann said: “It is very encouraging to hear that Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable patients are now benefiting from these breakthrough medicines.
“These effective new treatments have been rolled out rapidly across Northern Ireland and I would like to commend the clinical teams at our health and social care trusts who have worked exceptionally hard to ensure rapid uptake and the resilience which all teams demonstrated to maintain service in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Both monoclonal antibodies and antivirals have been shown to improve survival and recovery time and provide an additional layer of support for patients. Rolling out these treatments to the most vulnerable patients is an important step in our continued fight against COVID-19. »
Mater Hospital is the OCT site of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT). It is one of six HSC Trusts sites in Northern Ireland. Dr Mark Cross, Deputy Medical Director and Clinical Manager of nMAB at the Belfast Trust, said:
“Treatments previously only available to those hospitalized with the virus are now being offered to a limited group of eligible patients most at risk of harm from COVID-19 in the community. These new treatments are used in the early stages of infection and should be given as soon as possible after receiving a confirmed positive PCR test or registering a positive lateral flow test result. Intravenous treatments are delivered in approximately 90 minutes”.
The Minister concluded: “The vaccination program remains our first line of defense against COVID-19 but these treatments allow us to maximize our ability to protect vulnerable patients and prevent them from serious illnesses, thus helping to alleviate the pressures on the health service.