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Tallahassee doctor shares what you need to know about monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatment

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 10:30 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Now more than ever, finding ways to keep COVID-19 positive cases out of the hospital is crucial. COVID-19 wards in Tallahassee and across the country continue to fill with patients.

There’s a renewed focus on a possible treatment for COVID19: the antibody “cocktail” that made headlines late last year

The more proper term for it is monoclonal antibodies, and like the vaccine, there are several versions currently FDA-approved through emergency use authorization.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a Thursday news conference said, “The results have been very, very positive.” He added that “There’s very effective treatments for COVID, these monoclonal antibodies.”

On Friday, Gov. DeSantis promoted monoclonal antibodies as a gamechanger.

“The fact that people know about it is half the battle,” Gov. DeSantis said.

First approved by the FDA last fall, the Regeneron “cocktail” uses an IV to administer laboratory made proteins to mimic the immune system to fight the virus., as a Tampa doctor with the governor explained.

“That’s a pretty powerful treatment against the virus that is very very effective in our own studies and studies across the country,” said University of South Florida’s Dr. Kami Kim.

But, how widely available is it?

Florida State University College of Medicine’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Daniel Van Durme told WCTV that supply remains limited, so doctors approve the treatment for only those most likely to develop severe COVID-19.

“It’s an extremely effective treatment for a limited number of people,” said Durme. “Every doctor has to evaluate that individual patient to see if they’re high risk for hospitalization or complications.”

A spokesperson with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital confirmed the treatment is currently offered at the hospital, but indicated as the COVID ward swells, resources for the IV treatment are taxed.

Durme said that’s likely the scene everywhere..

“Just don’t have the resources as we’re overwhelmed with COVID numbers to give it to that many people,” Durme explained.

It needs to be administered within days of infection, and it’s not a treatment for those already hospitalized.

Dr. Van Durme’s advice is to follow a positive test result with a call to your primary care doctor and go from there.

Availability varies. In the Capital City, TMH offers this treatment, but Capital Regional Medical Center does not. In Georgia, the South Georgia Medical Center just opened a new COVID-19 clinic that offers the treatment as well.

Just last month, the FDA issued emergency authorization for these antibodies to be used as a preventative treatment for someone just exposed to the virus, but made clear it is not a vaccine alternative.

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