CNMI receives 10 vials of COVID-19 treatment drug

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Posted on Nov 30 2020

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The CNMI received earlier this month 10 vials of bamlanivimab, a treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19, and will receive another 10 vials later on.

According to the federal health department, bamlanivimab, an intravenous drug, is for treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19. It is applicable for patients who are 12 years old and older, weighing at least 40 kg, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe infection or hospitalization. This means this drug will only be administered to those who are COVID-19 positive patients who are at risk of becoming worse.

According to a report on the Guam-based newspaper Pacific Island Times, a total of 1,310 doses of the drug has been allocated for U.S. territories and freely associated states, with Puerto Rico getting the biggest share of 1,020 doses. Guam received 200; the CNMI, 20; American Samoa, 10; the U.S. Virgin Islands, 30; Palau, 10; the Federated States of Micronesia, 10; and the Marshall Islands, 10.

Though this is good news for the CNMI, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña said the public still needs to continue practicing the 3 W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait at a 6 feet distance.

“There’s still a need to practice the three W’s. There’s still a need to protect, because we’re going to see that not everyone’s going to be willing to get the vaccines…so those are things that we have to take into account,” said Muña.

She stated that their goal is to vaccinate 100% of the CNMI population but setting 100% as a target may not be achievable because people could still refuse to be inoculated. CHCC chose 95%, which means approximately 50,000 residents will be vaccinated. “Achieving this will also ensure we go beyond the minimum 70% needed for herd immunity,” said Muña.

According to the World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, to achieve herd immunity you need to have approximately 95% of the population to have immunity or antibodies. Even if you have 5% of the people not vaccinated, the other 95% have enough protection in the population to prevent a virus from going from one person to another.

When asked how CHCC will administer the vaccine, Muña stated that they will be offering mass vaccination opportunities that are similar to the community-based testing that was administered at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. Additionally, they will engage with the CNMI government and community partners like Rotary International to ensure a wide registration effort. For the registration, Muña stated that it will be just like the CBT registration where people who want to get vaccinated will have to preregister.

Muña did not state when the remaining 10 vials will be delivered here.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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