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Arizona hospitals now offering antibody treatment

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 00:34:04-05

Many treatments are available for COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Now there is an option for those with mild to moderate symptoms, a way to prevent it from progressing.

Ken and Eileen Wells are both recovering from COVID-19. They say a fairly new monoclonal antibody treatment they received just may have saved their lives.

"It's kind of designed to keep you out of the hospital, is what I understand it to be. So, if that's the purpose of it all, it helped me,” says Ken Wells, who received antibody treatment.

Many hospitals in Arizona are now using antibody-based drugs to help people with mild to moderate symptoms. It’s one of the few treatment options available to those who aren’t hospitalized. Dr. Devin Minior with Banner Health explains the method.

"An antibody that's infused into the body that's been designed in a laboratory to directly attack the COVID virus. So, very similar to how your immune system would work,” says Dr. Devin Minior, Physician Executive/Chief Medical Officer, Banner Urgent Care and Banner Occupational Health.

Former President Trump received the Regeneron therapy in October, crediting it for his early recovery from the virus. It wasn’t made more widely available until recently.

"Really, the work right now is getting the word out there that this therapy exists,” says Dr. Minior.

You must have a doctor referral to receive the outpatient treatment. Each hospital has its own criteria, but many offer it to those who are 65 and older or high-risk.

The medication must also be given within the first 10 days of the onset of symptoms and a positive test.

"It is preventing admissions; it’s slowing the rate of admissions into the hospital,” says Mimi Coomler, Tucson Medical Center, chief operating officer.

Tucson Medical Center is one of two states in the country to launch a large scale infusion effort selected by the federal government. A disaster medical assistance team (DMAT) has been on-site the past few weeks, providing help opening an infusion center. They have completed 600 infusions so far, and only six patients were readmitted to TMC following treatment.

"This is a pretty exciting advancement that we have something that can address the virus itself as opposed to just providing supportive treatment for the symptoms,” says Coomler.

To learn more about the TMC Infusion Center, click here.

To learn more about the antibody treatment offered at Banner Health, click here.