New monoclonal antibody treatments targeting people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and only just developed symptoms have been shown to reduce the severity of the disease and prevent hospitalizations.
The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for two treatments. Both are offered via IV and take about an hour to administer, plus some check-in and monitoring time. The treatments take place in a hospital or clinic setting and are meant to help neutralize the virus in patients who have already become ill.
Two pharmaceutical companies have FDA authorization for their monoclonal antibody treatments. Each has a hotline to help locate treatment providers:
- Regeneron: 844-734-6643
- Eli Lilly: 855-545-5921
Many area hospitals and private infusion centers are also offering monoclonal antibody treatments to COVID patients. The National Infusion Center, an Austin-based trade association, has created a locator tool, which shows 20 such sites within a 30-mile radius. But CEO Brian Nyquist cautions that many may be operating at or near capacity, given the current surge and their pre-existing, non-COVID clientele.
Additionally, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the opening of a pop-up infusion center outside of the Montopolis CommUnity Care location earlier this month. Area hospital systems have donated Regeneron supplies to ensure steady—and free—treatment remains available.
One week into its operations, the center is treating around 26 COVID patients each day. Patients must be referred by area physicians or contacted by Austin Public Health and CommUnity Care after receiving a positive test result for COVID at one of their sites.
Although the center is ramping up its capacity, with a goal of treating 75 patients each day, demand will likely continue to outpace supply, similar to the vaccine rollout. "With uncontrolled spread throughout the community, we expect to keep seeing high demand," EMS System Deputy Medical Director Dr. Jason Pickett said Wednesday.
Because the drugs remain under an emergency use authorization, it is given only to priority patients, including those populations at highest risk of being hospitalized with—or dying from—COVID. These include the elderly, communities of color and those without insurance.
State and local officials say monoclonal antibody treatments are an important tool to help reduce hospitalizations, especially as ICUs across the Austin metro near capacity.
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