JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – For high-risk patients who do catch COVID-19, health experts are urging monoclonal antibody treatments to lessen symptoms.
“It’s not new. We’ve been giving monoclonal antibodies since they became available in December of 2020 under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization or a EUA,” said Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer, Jamie Swift. “It’s the same authorization that the vaccines rolled out under.”
Since its authorization, the system has treated over 1,500 patients with monoclonal antibodies, and that number is growing.
“This past week was the highest number of doses we administered at 204. And you can see back July 4, that week we gave eight doses or therapies at that time,” said Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer, Eric Deaton. “It continues to be something we’re really focused on, and we look for different outlets to provide this.”
The treatment can be administered in the emergency room or ordered by primary care doctors for COVID patients over the age of 12 and within the first 10 days of illness.
“We’ve seen this being very effective in keeping a lot of people out of the hospital, especially if we can see people, catch this very early from a diagnosis standpoint,” Deaton said.
Monoclonal antibody treatment isn’t used as a preventative treatment.
“Monoclonal antibodies are an increasingly promising treatment for COVID-19, especially if you get them early in your illness, so within that first 10 days of infection is when it’s recommended,” said Swift. “Beyond monoclonal antibodies, we encourage anyone with COVID-19 to seek early treatment should you need care; it often could prevent hospitalization.”
Swift warned against using other drugs like Ivermectin as a treatment.
“It’s an antiparasitic, most typically used in veterinary settings. There is no current legitimate evidence or research that supports it as a COVID-19 treatment,” said Swift. “Similarly, Hydroxychloroquine was once hyped as a potential COVID-19 cure, but there’s also no supporting evidence that works either.”
Ballad hopes to open a monoclonal antibody treatment clinic next week.
“We are recognizing the need of setting up a separate infusion center where we have multiple infusion bays where we can run several patients at a time,” said Swift. “Our goal, if we stay on track, is to have that open by Monday. Certainly, we will share that information as it becomes final. But, we are actively working as quickly as we can to get that stood up.”