As we all know, COVID-19 can send some to the hospital. Comanche County Memorial Hospital hoping to prevent the virus from progressing by offering COVID-19 antibody infusions to those who qualify.
When 7NEWS interviewed Dr. Pradeep Mada, an Infectious Diseases Physician at CCMH, he said the hospital had already done nearly 50 antibody infusions, and only one person had to be admitted to the hospital because of their virus worsening.
“It’s pretty good actually,” Dr. Mada said. “If we decrease the hospitalization, we are decreasing a lot of suffering.”
So, how does it work?
“These are monoclonal antibodies,” he said. “These are lab-engineered protein molecules which mimic our immune system and fight against it, the virus. It will neutralize the virus by preventing attachment of the virus to our human cells.”
The infusion hasn’t been approved by the FDA, but it’s been authorized for emergency use by the FDA. Jennifer Renner, the director of surgical services at CCMH, said they ask patients to carve out a three-hour window of availability whenever they come.
“The infusion goes over an hour,” Renner said. “So, the actual medications themselves, and we have two different options for medications, takes about an hour. Then, we watch and observe the patient for about an additional hour afterward, prior to them getting to go home.”
To meet the criteria for the infusion, it must be a mild to moderate case within the first 10 days of symptoms. People also cannot be hospitalized or requiring oxygen therapy because of the virus. Besides that, there are other requirements based on age.
“If we give this at an early stage, before hospitalization, this will significantly decrease the hospitalization risk,” said Dr. Mada.
Renner said because of how long the process takes, they are limited as to how many they can do in a day, but they try to get an appointment scheduled as soon as they can because people only have 10 days to get it from the day, they started showing symptoms of the virus.
“We know that we have that narrow window,” she said. “And obviously, the sooner we can get them the treatment, the better their long-term outcome is going to be.”
Renner said they’ve gotten to see personally, through friends and family, how it’s helping in their journey to recovery.
“If you talk to any of the ladies that work in the infusion center, they’re excited about it because it’s a sense of what you’re doing really is making a difference for these patients,” Renner said. “I mean, these are your COPD patients, these are your immunocompromised patients, your elderly that would be the ones we see in our COVID unit here and in our ICU. So, knowing that it is really working, it is really making a difference.”
The federal government is providing the drug for free, but there are administration costs. If you have COVID and you’d like to set up an appointment to get it, call your CCMH primary care provider. If you don’t have one, you can call the rapid access clinic.