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UB to treat COVID-19 outpatients as part of national study; how you can enroll

A blue cloth face mask is pictured on a white table.
Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo
Studio images of a N95 and cloth face masks. These are options for face covers suggested during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the University at Buffalo announced some good news for those who might be having a bad week.

Researchers at the university are looking for people who just got diagnosed with COVID-19 to participate in an outpatient treatment study. 

In simple terms, this means if you tested positive in the last week, you could be eligible to be part of a national study involving drugs that may treat mild to moderate COVID.

Dr. Brian Clemency,  a professor of emergency medicine at UB, says researchers want to know how effective certain treatments, specifically monoclonal antibodies, might be in treating the disease. What’s unique about this study, is that you don’t have to be high risk for COVID to participate. The study opens the door to patients who wouldn’t traditionally get these medications, to see how well they work.

“So all of these are medications that are already available to certain patient populations right now. And so these are not experimental medicines that you can only get in a lab. These are things that certain patients are getting right now. And we're trying to do our due diligence to make sure they are truly helpful, because COVID is going to be here for the long run. And so we want to make sure we have the treatment options really hammered down and the evidence really understood," said Clemency.

The study is looking to enroll people who tested positive in the last 10 days and have had symptoms in the last eight days. The study is meant to treat those who are not currently hospitalized for COVID. Some patients will get monoclonal antibodies, and some will get a placebo that has no active medications.

Dr. Clemency says that there aren’t many counterindications, or conditions that would make you inelligible to participate, except if you’ve had a vaccine in the past six weeks. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. He explained to WBFO how the study works:

“Participants do a single visit to the hospital, for them to get their informed consent signed, and to get their first medication dose. The rest of the study is done at the patient's home, we come to them, we, through phone calls, and through at home nursing visits, we try to take the burden off the patient and make it as easy for them as possible to participate in the study," Clemency said.

As for that single visit at the hospital, the study will be seeing patients at DeGraff Memorial and Erie County Medical Center. There will be check-ins over the course of up to 72 weeks following the treatment. The study is important, Clemency says, because these treatments could be helpful for the younger, lower risk adults who might be further down the line for vaccinations. 

“Our young and healthy citizens are the ones who thus far have not yet had access to vaccines, unless they fit into one of those specialized groups that put them in a higher phase.  And so, as the summer comes and as, in general, we are loosening our social distancing requirements, the younger population is the group that's most at risk, because they are still for the most part, not protected by vaccine," said Clemency.

Dr. Brian Clemency, a white man with brown hair, stands wearing a white doctor coat with his arms crossed in a treatment room. Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Brian Clemency, Portrait, ECMC
Credit Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo / University at Buffalo

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Clemency emphasized that these monoclonal antibodies are already being used under emergency use authorization, and this is to test effectiveness. For those who might be worried about safety going into this study, Clemency says he would do it himself. 

"What I tell patients is, as a physician, the highest recommendation I can get for anything is would I do it for myself, and I would if I was sick enough, and I was in that state, I would I would take these medications, and I think that's the highest recommendation I can give for anything," said Clemency.

To see if you’re eligible, visit the website for the national study by clicking here or you can call 716-427-6643 to sign up through UB.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.
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