Northern Ireland news

New antibody treatment for Covid inpatients available from this week

Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride has welcomed a new antibody treatment for Covid hospital patients.
Paul Ainsworth

A NEW treatment for people hospitalised with Covid-19 is being made available from this week that will help the health service "significantly".

Health minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride both hailed the use of Ronapreve, a monoclonal antibody treatment specifically designed to treat Covid.

The treatment will be made available first to inpatients aged 50 and above, along with those aged 12 to 49 who are immuno--compromised.

It comes as the Department of Health recorded another eight Covid-19 deaths and another 1,165 new cases.

Yesterday there were 383 hospital inpatients with 31 in intensive care units.

Mr Swann said: "This new treatment is incredibly welcome and will benefit some of the most vulnerable patients in our hospitals. Alongside the success of our vaccine roll out, the development of new therapeutics is an important step in saving lives, protecting our health service, and fighting back against Covid-19."

Dr McBride said: "The availability of Ronapreve will help us significantly as we continue to move through this pandemic."

Meanwhile, the health minister has launched a new workforce appeal to help maintain important surgery this winter, asking those with the "skills and experience to support the delivery of surgery" to come forward.

The appeal is aimed at fully skilled staff who have recently left the health service and those recently qualified but not yet working in it.

"As we move towards the winter period, an increasing number of patients are likely to require urgent or emergency care," Minister Swann said.

"Alongside this, we are continuing to deal with stubbornly high rates of Covid cases requiring hospitalisation. In practice, this means that while our hospitals are under massive pressure and we have thousands of patients waiting for treatment, there are theatres lying empty with no staff to deliver the service."

In the Republic yesterday, where 1,355 new Covid cases were confirmed, there were 286 inpatients at hospitals with 59 receiving intensive care.

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