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

While the Okanagan Rail Trail remained open, Coldstream parks have been closed for a month now, but could re-open mid-May. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Funds link Okanagan Rail Trail to Predator Ridge

1.3-km section of multi-use trail with a safe crossing under Highway 97

Vernon Fire Rescue Services, BC Ambulance and Vernon North Okanagan RCMP responded to a three-vehicle collision at 32nd Street and 41st Avenue Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Google Maps)
Three vehicles collide on main Vernon road

Extent of injuries unknown at this time; police, ambulance and fire on scene

Several road closures were in effect Jan. 13 due to downed trees, but meanwhile many residents are hoping Lake Country will invest in fixing damaged roads in 2021. (District of Lake Country photo)
Road safety puts Lake Country traffic plans in drive

District funds traffic calming program, and community grant

One person was extricated from a vehicle that rolled off Highway 97 Feb. 25, 2021, near Clerke Road in Coldstream around 2 p.m. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
Two hurt in Highway 97 rollover south of Vernon

Ambulance transfers two patients with non-life-threatening injuries

The District of Lake Country and BC Transit would like the public’s feedback on how to improve the Kelowna Regional Transit System for Lake Country. (File photo)
Lake Country residents asked for transit feedback

District and BC Transit seeking ways to improve Kelowna transit system for Lake Country residents

Kelowna singer-songwriter Brent Carmichael wants to encourage the community to be more empathetic. (Brent Carmichael)
Kelowna singer-songwriter calls for compassion, empathy in new music video

Brent Carmichael’s new music video will premier on Feb. 28

Summerland’s municipal council will proceed with a four per cent property tax increase this year, but the deadlines for property tax payment have been extended. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland councillor’s letter to media draws disappointed from colleagues

Statements about solar project did not violate ethical or conduct standards

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna’s top cop removing barriers for women in the force

Kara Triance’s journey to becoming a police chief was not without its challenges

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ella Lamourexu. (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)
Kelowna’s drag story

Ella Lamourexu explains the history behind drag in Kelowna

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Person experiencing homelessness. (Black Press Media file photo)
Program preventing youth homelessness launches in the Okanagan

Upstream Project’s goal is to help young people become more resilient

(Michael Rodriguez, Kelowna Capital News/FILE)
First death tied to COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna hospital

The outbreak was first announced on Monday, Feb. 22

Walter Makepeace was shocked to find two of his beehives were missing from his Keremeos acreage Feb. 20, 2020. (Contributed)
Stolen beehives create buzz in South Okanagan village

Walter Makepeace was shocked to see two beehives had gone missing from his property

Most Read