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Monoclonal Antibody Treatments Are Accessible For South Florida COVID-19 Patients

Regeneron developed a drug called REGN-COV2 that is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies that block the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This type of intravenous treatment has become more common for COVID-19 patients in South Florida.
Regeneron developed a drug called REGN-COV2 that is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies that block the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This type of intravenous treatment has become more common for COVID-19 patients in South Florida.

A treatment for COVID-19 has become more widely available in South Florida: monoclonal antibodies that are infused intravenously, and that’s especially helpful for older patients who are overweight and have underlying conditions like diabetes.

Monoclonal antibodies were part of the regimen that helped former President Donald Trump recover quickly from COVID-19 in October. At the time, it was an experimental treatment that had been given to only a handful of people outside of clinical trials, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. That changed around December as more facilities received these treatments — while many were focused on the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

At a Jan. 25 press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Agency for Healthcare Administration was in the process of reaching out to long-term care facilities throughout the state to encourage the use of Eli Lilly and Regeneron antibody treatments.

"Not everyone chooses to do the vaccine, so this can be another way to be able to deal with the effects of COVID-19," he said.

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Some hospitals, like Memorial Pembroke, are treating patients with antibodies if they have COVID-19 and are at risk of becoming seriously ill. The catch is you need to start this treatment when you have mild or moderate symptoms to prevent the onset of serious illness. You also need a doctor's prescription to get an appointment for the infusion at the hospital.

If you don't have a primary care doctor or insurance, a physician at a community health clinic would be able to fill out the form and submit it to Memorial, along with the test result proving a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

"If we can get the word out to the community, which is what we’re desperately trying to do, we have about 1,000 doses of this drug left. We believe we can help save 1,000 lives," said David Starnes, the chief nursing officer at Memorial Pembroke.

The hospital is prioritizing patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days and who are at high-risk for hospitalization.

The treatment lasts an hour, then patients recover at home — which frees beds up for other patients. Memorial Pembroke has treated 315 patients so far and only six have had to return to the hospital.

Criteria for Memorial patients:

Adult patients must weigh at least 88.19 pounds, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days and have mild to moderate symptoms. Other criteria include:

  • body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater
  • chronic kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • older than 65 years of age
  • older than 55 and have underlying conditions like obesity, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and immunodeficiency

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