Medical professionals hope monoclonal antibody treatment helps quell hospitalization surge

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As ICU beds in hospitals across the state fill, healthcare professionals are leaning more heavily on an alternative treatment. The treatment meant to keep COVID-19 positive patients out of the hospital, if administered early enough; ideally, within the first few days of the first COVID symptom.

“Beats the heck out of three weeks in the hospital, we’re keeping people out of the hospital,” Huntsville Hospital nurse practitioner Cindy Rogers said.

Rogers says staff have administered about 1,250 monoclonal antibody treatments at the Huntsville Hospital Fever & Flu Clinic since November.

The infusion helps those with mild COVID symptoms build an immunity through lab-made proteins. In effect, stalling the infection from progressing to the point where the patient could end up in the hospital, proving to be a success, according to Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The use of monoclonal antibodies in certain patients can reduce hospitalization significantly, possibly up to 70 percent,” Landers said.

Healthcare professionals are racing to keep COVID patients, especially those who are high risk, be taken care of with the treatment before the virus progresses.

“The phone rings every 30 seconds,” Rogers said. “Most people can get [the treatment] if they apply during the first part of their illness. We’ve gone from 12 a day maximum to about 25 a day.”

Both said supply of the treatment has improved in recent months, as the FDA expanded emergency use to those 12 and older from 65 and older in May. Now, Dr. Landers says there’s a new roadblock.

“Keep in mind, we have to have the personnel to administer these treatments and certainly our hospitals, our healthcare providers are in really high demand right now,” Landers said.

Rogers says Huntsville Hospital is looking at expanding the program to get more patients treated. She is actively trying to recruit more staff at the clinic to make that happen soon.

The monoclonal therapies along with the vaccination rate starting to pick up is what’s going to help us capture COVID and stop it in its tracks,” Rogers said.

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