COVID-19 prevention drug Evusheld to arrive in Ontario next week

The first shipments of the COVID-19 prevention drug Evusheld are expected to arrive in Ontario the first week of May, with doses initially being administered to patients at highest risk of getting severely sick and dying of the virus.

The province will receive about 11,000 doses of Evusheld from the federal government and the drug will be available at select sites — primarily cancer and transplant clinics — starting the week of May 2, the Ministry of Health confirmed to the Star.

Additional supply of Evusheld is expected in May and June, a spokesperson said.

Evusheld was approved by Health Canada on April 14 for individuals with weaker immune systems, including transplant patients and some cancer patients. The drug — a combination of two monoclonal antibodies given by injection — is offered as a preventative measure before an individual gets sick with COVID.

Experts stress the drug is not a substitute for vaccination, but can help people whose bodies cannot mount a strong immune response following a COVID vaccine.

“Our priority is to focus on vaccinating people to reduce severe outcomes; we don’t want people thinking that Evusheld is a way to avoid getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Darren Yuen, a transplant nephrologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, a part of Unity Health Toronto.

“But there is hope in the transplant community that Evusheld will provide an additive benefit on top of vaccinations, because we know there is a subgroup of people that don’t seem to respond at all to vaccination, even with three doses.

“The hope is that Evusheld will provide antibodies to those patients who cannot develop antibodies to the vaccine themselves.”

Hospitals are waiting for further guidance from the province about the correct dosage and the specific types of patients who will initially be eligible for Evusheld while supplies are limited, Yuen said.

“It’s like with the initial (COVID) vaccine rollout; they’re trying to prioritize patients by highest risk,” he said.

In an email to the Star, the Ministry of Health said Evusheld will be available to “individuals with the highest-risk of a severe outcome from COVID-19 in the coming weeks,” which include: solid organ transplant recipients, stem cell transplant recipients , patients receiving CAR-T therapy (a form of immunotherapy for some cancer patients) and blood cancer patients undergoing treatment.

This eligibility criteria is based on advice from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Ontario Health, the spokesperson said.

“Patients who think they are eligible should contact their treating specialist,” the spokesperson said.


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

Leave a Comment