Gov. Whitmer provides COVID-19 update, expanding use of antibody therapy

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LANSING, Mich, (WLNS)– Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a news conference Wednesday afternoon, to provide an update on the state fight against COVID-19 as cases continue to surge in Michigan.

During the news conference, Whitmer announced the state is working to expand the use of a medical intervention designed to significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. 

Treatments include the use of monoclonal antibodies.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are laboratory-produced molecules that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. mAb targets different parts of the virus and prevents it from bonding with cells in the body, effectively neutralizing it. Clinical trials have shown promising data that this therapy works for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe symptoms and/or hospitalization, including older Michiganders. To date, preliminary data suggests more than 6,600 Michiganders have received this treatment with 65% reporting feeling better with two days of treatment and less than 5% of them requiring hospitalization following treatment. 

We are using every mitigation strategy, every medication, and every treatment option to fight the virus here in Michigan,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “These antibody treatments could keep you out of the hospital and save your life, and my administration and I will continue working with the federal government to make sure we are using all the tools in our toolbox to keep you and your family safe and get back to normal sooner.” 

The governor will be joined by the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun using the treatment quickly, can effectivly help those showing symptoms from the virus.

“When administered to non-hospitalized patients within 10 days of symptom onset, monoclonal antibodies may reduce symptoms and the risk of hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with the virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Michiganders who contract COVID-19 should ask their health care providers about receiving this treatment and I urge providers to assess if their patients qualify. We have seen successful use of this therapy in long-term care facilities and even in home use by EMS providers. This therapy can help save the lives of more Michigan residents as we work to vaccinate 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.” 

Whitmer and Khaldun last spoke to the state about the virus on Friday, urging for a two week shutdown in indoor dinning, schools to switch to remote learning, and a pause in non-professional sports among other things.

The governor stopped short of ordering an shutdowns, but called for everyone to do there part.

Here’s what the governor had to say during that news conference in the video below.

Today’s news conference comes as Michigan reported 7,955 newly confirmed coronavirus cases as its surge continues, as well as recorded 33 more deaths related to the virus.

In all, Michigan has now had 764,519 confirmed cases of the virus since it was first detected here in March 2020 and 16,619 associated deaths.

On Monday, labs tested 58,871 samples for the virus and 8,374 were positive. That’s a percentage of 14.22%. The number of positive tests is not the same as the number of new cases because people may be tested more than once. Additionally, testing numbers are from a single calendar date, while the number of new cases lists the increase since the last time the state compiled the data; these two time frames do not match up precisely.

NATIONALLY

On Tuesday the FDA announced they were recommending all state pause use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while officials from both the agency, and the CDC investigate several cases of a rare and serious blood clotting found in those who’ve taken the vaccine.

Over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are administered in the United States as of April 12, with nearly 200,000 of those doses administered in Michigan. 

The state did release a statement saying they would follow federal guidance, and cease administering the vaccine, until given the green light.

“More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., and these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are following recommendations from FDA and CDC and pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Michigan,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “As we learn more about this from our federal partners, we will update vaccine providers and Michiganders across the state. We encourage everyone to continue making appointments to be vaccinated with the safe and effective Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at this time. These vaccines are the way we are going to end this pandemic as quickly as possible and move toward a sense of normalcy.” 

Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit  Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.      

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