People wait to be screened before entering Little Mountain Place, a long-term care home in Vancouver, on January 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. to do clinical trial of COVID-19 drug on emergency basis to treat severe cases

Bamlanivimab is designed to block the COVID -19 virus from attaching to and entering human cells

British Columbia will begin a clinical trial on a COVID-19 drug therapy approved by Health Canada on an emergency basis for patients who are at risk of being hospitalized with severe illness.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the trial on the drug bamlanivimab, which has been studied elsewhere, is expected to get underway by the beginning of March.

“The clinicians here in B.C. felt they had to better understand who it works best in,” she said.

The drug would be given to patients within a certain time period after diagnosis, involving a one-hour infusion and two hours of observation.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the trial will be done at Surrey Memorial Hospital with the help of a $1-million donation from a biotech company in B.C.

Bamlanivimab is designed to block the COVID -19 virus from attaching to and entering human cells. Health Canada authorized its use in November.

Henry said she agrees with the province’s ombudsperson that the policy on long-term care visits needs to be more fair and consistent after complaints from those trying to see loved ones during the pandemic.

Jay Chalke said he welcomes Henry’s recent order that legally requires all long-term care homes to apply the visitor policy issued last month by the Health Ministry.

While Henry’s order expressly anticipates that changes to the policy may be needed, Chalke said he wants the ministry to make improvements because of his concerns about how it’s being implemented.

He called for mandatory timelines for decisions made by facility staff on requests for visits as well as for each stage of an appeals process. Care homes should also provide written reasons when visits are denied or restricted, he added.

“These shortcomings are unnecessarily amplifying an already difficult situation,” he said in a news release.

COVID-19 hit dozens of long-term care homes in the province and the outbreaks are responsible for the majority of deaths since the pandemic began.

Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said all care-home residents are entitled to an essential visitor but some are only allowed one “designated” or social visitor who is denied access to the resident’s room.

Mackenzie said the decision on visitors should be left up to residents or whoever speaks for them, which she highlighted in a report in November.

“What we have is guidelines in place that allow for an essential visitor, but that does not guarantee that a resident will be allowed the essential visitor,” she said Monday.

The public health order issued Friday stipulates that residents who have an essential visitor should also get a designated or social visitor, Mackenzie said, adding the issue has caused confusion for care-home operators and the Fraser Health Authority in particular.

Mackenzie said families that have not been allowed an essential visitor have called her office to express their frustration and she’s concerned that those who have always helped feed and care for their loved ones have been treated as “an issue to be managed.”

READ MORE: Top doctor ‘dreading’ possibility that COVID variants will take off in B.C.

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

The future of the Cache Creek pool is still up in the air as council ponders different options and cost considerations. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
No decision about whether Cache Creek pool will open in 2021

Council still discussing pool’s future; no date set for public meeting about its fate

More people at home during the pandemic is probably one of the reasons for a spike in water usage in Ashcroft in 2020. (Photo credit: Pixabay)
Ashcroft residents urged to conserve water after usage spike in 2020

Water consumption in 2020 increased by 14 per cent over previous year

Sandbagging materials outside an Emergency Operations Centre in Cache Creek in April 2020, after flooding prompted several evacuation alerts and orders in the community. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek council asks for more info about alert system

Decision about joining emergency notification system deferred to next meeting

The Thompson-Nicola Invasive Plant Program provides education and outreach about invasive plant species in the region and how to deal with them. (Photo credit: TNRD)
Cache Creek invited to join TNRD invasive plant program

Council notes from the meeting of Feb. 15

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Oliver Elementary School. (File)
Interior Health reports potential COVID-19 exposure at South Okanagan elementary school

Interior Health lists two dates for the potential exposure

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, eight months after the B.C. legislature approved the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 business grant fund still mostly unspent

$300 million pandemic assistance approved almost a year ago

Most Read