New COVID drug provides peace of mind to immunocompromised Vermonter

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:49 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:52 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - A brand new medicine to combat COVID-19 is on the market. The FDA emergency authorized AstraZeneca’s preventative therapy in December. Now, it’s helping immunocompromised patients find freedom during the pandemic.

It will be three years in April since Shirley Raymond’s liver transplant. “COVID has been two years, so it’s been a trying two years,” she said.

The Saint Albans resident knew that despite receiving four doses of COVID vaccines, she should take extra precautions including keeping a distance from friends and family -- even her husband. Her dog Maisy is her only constant companion, helping to dig her out of the depression. “I call her my therapy dog,” Raymond said.

But Raymond wasn’t willing to hunker down in her house forever. So, in mid-January, she turned to the internet. “I kept searching for something that would give me immunity,” she said. Finally, she came across a little-known drug called Evusheld. Raymond asked Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center if she was eligible. And it so happened that the hospital had just launched a centralized Evusheld clinic that same month. Within days, Raymond was one of DHMC’s first patients to receive the two intramuscular shots.

“What we have observed for those who have moderate to severe immunocompromised, it seems that they’re not producing the antibodies after the vaccine like we hope to,” said Dr. Jose Mercado, DHMC’s COVID-19 response leader. He says the hospital has so far administered Evusheld to about 130 patients who are either immunocompromised or experience adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines, an average of 27 patients per week since the clinic opened.

Evusheld directly injects two types of monoclonal antibodies -- one in each buttock -- which prevents the virus from binding to spike proteins and making the person sick. Mercado says a single dose provides about 77% protection from all current COVID variants for up to six months. The most common side effects include headache, cough, and fatigue -- nothing considered serious so far. He stresses that the drug is not a substitute for the vaccines. But for patients like Raymond, the medicine promises some peace of mind.

“We’re going to start living life again -- I think that’s the whole thing. We weren’t living before, now we are,” Raymond said. Enjoying life’s simple and extraordinary pleasures without worry. From eating at restaurants and visiting loved ones, to booking a cruise.

Patients are urged to talk to their provider to see if they might be eligible for the treatment. Availability and demand vary by state and DHMC warns it could take months to land a spot on the list.

Copyright 2022 WCAX. All rights reserved.