TULSA, Okla. — Monoclonal antibody treatment is considered the only treatment for high-risk patients battling COVID-19. Doctors are using it on patients across the country, but doses are going unused.
Similar to the vaccine, treatment uses antibodies to fight the COVID-19 infection and prevent hospitalization for high-risk patients.
Chad Seright, registered nurse for OU Health System, said he wouldn’t be here today without the lifesaving treatment. It wasn’t until his health took a sharp downward turn after contracting the virus when he finally signed up for the treatment.
“My gut was telling me that I was going to end up in the hospital,” Seright said.
Seright contracted the virus after working as a nurse at OU Health. A colleague at OU Health referred him to the treatment. The The United States Food and Drug Administration first authorized the drug for “emergency use” back in November. Although it is not fully approved, early studies show it can help prevent the infection from getting worse in high-risk patients.
“I honestly believe it helped me immensely,” Seright said.
So far, Seright is only among 50 other patients to receive the experimental treatment.
OU physician Dr. Rachel Franklin said there are few reasons why.
“First, people are not aware of it. They don’t know you have to get it early in the course of illness,” Dr. Franklin said. “Well, by the time, you’re a week or 10 days out, we probably won’t be able to get you that infusion.”
The next problem isn’t its supply but rather the staff to administer the drug along with the space for the patient’s infusion.
“This infusion takes about an hour to run into your body through an IV and then you have to be monitored by a registered nurse for another hour,” Dr. Franklin said.
To receive the treatment at OSU Medical Center, patients must:
• have a body mass index greater than 35
• have chronic kidney disease
• have diabetes
• have an immunosuppressive disease
• are 65 or older
• or 55 and older with other underlying health issues
All of the major Tulsa-area hospitals provide the treatment, and because we’re still in a state of emergency with the pandemic, the treatment is free.
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