How to get monoclonal antibody therapy for COVID-19 in San Antonio, Bexar County
SAN ANTONIO – Joe Rogan got it. So did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is one of a handful of treatments with emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19.
Currently, it’s only available to high-risk patients with a doctor’s referral.
According to the FDA — “Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses. Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody that is specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and is designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells.”
The infusion is recommended for people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms to prevent hospitalization. To be effective, the treatment needs to be done shortly after a patient has tested positive and is showing symptoms.
Once symptoms are severe and a patient requires hospitalization with oxygen or mechanical ventilation, monoclonal antibodies won’t work and have actually been associated with worse clinical outcomes, the FDA states.
In early August, Bexar County opened the Regional Infusion Center at Freeman Coliseum. University Health officials say an average of 60 patients a day are receiving infusions there.
“We fill out close to 50 forms a day from our facilities alone, but the infusion center is running days behind in scheduling. So some patients run past their 10-day window waiting for an appointment and are no longer eligible at that point. They’re doing the absolute best they can to keep up, but they face the same staffing shortages we all do, unfortunately,” said Edward Wright, MD, co-founder of Prestige Emergency Room.
In addition to the Freeman site, there are at least two dozen other locations offering the infusions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a national map online that displays locations that have received shipments of monoclonal antibody therapeutics within the past several weeks.
According to the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, any of the following conditions qualify a person to receive the treatment:
65 years of age or older
BMI of 35 or higher
Chronic Kidney Disease
Immunosuppressive disease or treatment
Heart disease or high blood pressure
Sickle cell disease
Having a medical-related technological dependence, such as a tracheostomy
Click here to get more information about qualifying conditions.
Patients need a doctor’s referral or can be screened by calling the Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Hotline at 1-800-742-5990.
Patients don’t need to have insurance to receive the free service, and it can also be done in a patient’s home.
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