COVID-19 deaths in Utah exceed 2,500. The number of Utahns fully vaccinated tops 1.5 million.

Intermountain Healthcare study finds that monoclonal antibody treatment likely saved some patients from dying.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People are vaccinated against COVID-19 at the former Provo High School gym at 1125 N. University Ave. on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

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The COVID-19 death toll in Utah exceeded 2,500 over the weekend.

According to the Utah Department of Health, there were nine more deaths on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing the total to 2,503.

(The health department no longer reports COVID-19 numbers on weekends. On Monday, it reported numbers from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.)

There were 2,013 new cases of the coronavirus over the weekend as well — 948 on Friday, 662 on Saturday and 403 on Sunday. (Testing slows down on weekends, particularly on Sunday.) UDOH also added five more cases to the state’s total because of updated reporting from before Friday.

The number of Utahns fully vaccinated against COVID-19 now exceeds 1.5 million. That’s just over 46% of the state’s total population.

According to UDOH, there have been 5,841 “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 in Utah — people who contracted the virus two weeks or more after being fully vaccinated. That’s about 1 in every 258 people who are fully vaccinated.

Of that number, 353 have been hospitalized — 1 in about every 4,261 people who are fully vaccinated. And there have been 21 deaths, or 1 in about every 71,624 people.

Vaccine doses administered in past three days/total doses administered • 18,877 / 3,084,676.

Utahns fully vaccinated • 1,504,113.

Cases reported in past three days • 2,013.

Deaths reported in past three days • Nine.

Salt Lake County reported three more deaths: two men between the ages of 45 and 64, and a man 65-84.

There were two deaths in Davis County, both men 45-64, as well as two deaths in Utah County, a man and a woman 65-84.

The other deaths were a Box Elder County man 45-64, and a Weber County man 65-84.

Tests reported in past three days • 14,278 people were tested for the first time. A total of 23,577 people were tested.

Hospitalizations reported in the past three days • 389. That’s five more than on Friday. Of those currently hospitalized, 160 are in intensive care, four fewer than on Friday.

Percentage of positive tests • Under the state’s original method, the rate is 14.1%. That’s slightly lower than the seven-day average of 14.4%.

The state’s new method counts all test results, including repeated tests of the same individual. Friday’s rate was 8.5%, lower than the seven-day average of 10.3%.

[Read more: Utah is changing how it measures the rate of positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s what that means.]

Totals to date • 440,497 cases; 2,503 deaths; 19,004 hospitalizations; 2,974,486 people tested.

In a new study, doctors at Intermountain Healthcare found that a monoclonal antibody treatment reduced severe illness and hospitalizations of high-risk COVID-19 by more than 50% — and likely saved some patients from dying from the virus.

”They work best when given very early on in the symptom course, when the impact of the virus is at its greatest — and in patients who have no antibodies to the virus itself on their own,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain, and the study’s lead author.

The study — published in the July issue of the medical journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases — compared results from 594 patients who received monoclonal antibodies to those of 5,536 COVID-19 patients who did not. The treatment has been available since last fall, and Webb said it was important “that we understand whether these products actually work in the real world, and whether they were safe.”

The study, Webb said, found that the infusion treatment was “well tolerated,” with 1% of those receiving it having an adverse reaction — and most of those reactions were mild, and easily treated. “The biggest takeaway” from the study, Webb said, is that “these products are most effective when targeted early in the course” of symptoms. So people who start feeling COVID-19 symptoms should get tested as soon as possible, he said, so they can “have access to these and other treatments.”

Monoclonal antibodies — the brands best known to doctors are bamlanivimab, made by Eli Lilly, and Regeneron’s casirivimab/imdevimab — “mimic the body’s natural antibody response,” Webb said in a virtual news conference Monday. That’s different than the COVID-19 vaccines, which are designed to jumpstart the body’s immune system into creating its own antibodies.

Because of that difference, Webb said, monoclonal antibodies usually work best on people who have not been vaccinated.

The drugs for the treatments are plentiful, Webb said. There can be a bottleneck at locations where the infusion procedure is performed, he said, because those places also provide intravenous treatments — such as chemotherapy — to other patients. Providers follow a set of eligibility criteria to target the patients most likely to benefit from the treatment, he said.