WAUSAU – Aspirus Health has expanded its offering of a COVID-19 antibody treatment to hospitals in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin Rapids and Portage, Aspirus announced this week.

It had begun offering the experimental treatment, which helps people manage their symptoms, in November at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and as of March 10 it had treated its 300th patient.

The treatment, an infusion therapy using a drug called Bamlanivimab, is intended for people with COVID-19 who are at higher risk for hospitalization or developing more severe symptoms.

Aspirus’ results show that only 4 percent of those who received the treatment later required admission to the hospital, Aspirus said in a news release. This means that at least 48 additional hospitalizations were prevented based on the 17 percent to 20 percent hospitalization rate expected for this population.

“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that people with chronic health conditions are more susceptible to developing complications from COVID-19 that often require hospitalization,” said Johonna Asquith, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Aspirus, in the news release. “This treatment has been extremely effective in helping people manage their symptoms, deliver positive outcomes and even save lives.”

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 must meet specific criteria to be eligible for antibody therapy. Eligible people include those ages 65 and older, considered obese, or who have a chronic disease such as diabetes, kidney, lung or heart disease, hypertension, or any immunosuppressive disease.