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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If the idea of the metaverse makes you feel more scared than excited, you’re not alone.
In a recent poll on the metaverse, a third of respondents leaned toward feeling more scared about it. It’s a response fitting for a tool that’s in its infancy stages, where it’s not uncommon for some to find it elusive or irrelevant, or require a virtual reality headset.
Amber Allen, founder of metaverse company Double A, has noticed these concerns. Now with the Austin-based company, she’s working on advancements in the metaverse, which may see progress in business use before it becomes mainstream in the general public. But getting to that point involves demystifying misconceptions over it, like that we’ll all put a headset on and avoid real life.
“A lot of people are talking about the metaverse and like what it could be in 10 or 30 years. And they're not talking a lot about what it is right now. And I think that's what scares people and confuses them,” Allen told Austonia. “I'm just very passionate about what is the metaverse now. It's the next wave of the internet. No, you don't need to wear a VR headset.”
She broke this down last week in Forbes, writing about what is hype versus what’s actually happening with this phase of the internet.
Allen sees how eventually, the metaverse could become a part of how we play and interact. But before the Metaverse extends to the average consumer, many predict that it will be popular in business first.
It’s why some think Microsoft may have an edge over Facebook turned Meta in the industry. And why Allen has designed for work that’s 3D, interactive and business to business, garnering interest from companies like General Mills, Dell and Chanel.
She points to how many workers now prefer a hybrid work environment, but says the business tools are not there right now. It’s not just within the workplace, however. Double A also offers tools for boosting sales and generating brand engagement through activities like watch parties and meet and greets.
With companies like Allen’s, corporate metaverse use could see wider adoption. Double A has hired 13 people this year, adding to the ranks of nearly 30 employees plus dozens of contractors. Some are remote workers outside of Texas while others use the office in East Austin with graffiti art that includes popular gaming figures like Zelda and the Mario Brothers.
Allen takes great pride in working in her home state, saying that she’d like to be a great ambassador for Austin. She said she wants people new to the city to feel welcome. She has meet ups from time to time so that new people who have moved in can get face time with others who have been in Austin for a while.
Still, her work is bound to extend outside of Austin as she aims to create products that will have global reach.
“I want to change the world,” Allen said. “You got to think localized. If I'm creating something, how does this work for Europe? How would this work for Asia? How can they build on things?”
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The record-breaking heat seen last week is officially coming to a halt as some much-needed rain is expected in Austin from Monday through Wednesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for Central Texas as thunderstorms headed this way could be strong to severe.
Thunderstorms are forecast to begin in the west around 6 p.m. Monday, bringing about a half-inch of rain through the night. Then Tuesday, thunderstorms will likely begin after 1 p.m. lasting through the night. Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will be in the mid-80s before dropping to the mid-70s on Wednesday. Wednesday will also bring rain and thunderstorms in the morning before clearing out.
Rainfall chances will increase today beginning in the west before spreading east. Rain chances remain elevated through tonight and then again tomorrow and tomorrow night. Strong to severe storms and locally heavy rain will be possible from the stronger activity. pic.twitter.com/f8OpN50dkX
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) May 23, 2022
The rain comes after a dry spring that has pushed drought conditions from moderate to severe, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Lake Travis has dropped to its lowest level in almost 4 years as a result.