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Florida Health Leaders Tout Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Photo: Upsplash
Photo: Upsplash

Florida hospital leaders are urging more people to take advantage of a COVID-19 treatment known as "monoclonal antibodies." The FDA recently expanded its emergency authorization for the therapy. It's meant for people who recently tested positive for the virus or are at high risk for becoming seriously ill.

The treatment typically involves infusing lab-made antibodies designed to fight the coronavirus into patients through an IV. Some health systems are offering it in hospitals, others in outpatient clinics. Dr. Kami Kim, an infectious disease specialist with Tampa General Hospital says data shows it's very effective at preventing severe COVID-19. "These are really really important treatments, they help people recover more quickly, so if you can make people have less severe disease obviously they're not going to end up in our hospital, in our ICU and potentially dying." The federal government covers the cost of the treatment. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a vocal critic of COVID prevention efforts like mask-wearing, has been touting the therapy lately. Speaking at Tampa General, DeSantis cautioned patients only have about a week after symptoms appear for it to work well. "If you test positive and kind of just wait and hope that it doesn't get worse and it starts to get very severe, by that time doing a monoclonal antibody treatment is probably not going to be something that's going to turn the tide." The FDA now allows people with weakened immune systems to get the treatment in some cases regardless of a positive test, since they don't respond as well to vaccines. But health officials stress this isn't meant to be a vaccine substitute.