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Hospitals lean on monoclonal antibody therapy to help preserve capacity

Coronavirus

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As the Delta variant surges, ICU beds are becoming a scarcity in some areas and medical staffing is strained, local hospitals in Northwest Louisiana are administering monoclonal antibody therapy to COVID positive patients in hopes to keep them out of the ICU and surgical beds. Therefore, other patients will receive the care they need.

“As far as we know the patients that we’ve gotten infusions in have not required hospitalizations, you can still be sick from COVID but you may not require sickness to the point of hospitalizing and that’s the important part,” said Dr. Susan Kemp, the Medical Director at CHRISTUS Wound Care & Hyperbaric Clinic.

Monoclonal antibody therapy uses laboratory-made proteins that mimic your immune system and helps fight off the COVID-19 virus – if patients get it within ten days of testing positive.

“If we can get that infusion to a patient pretty quickly after the diagnosis, we can stop that coronavirus from entering the cell and reproducing and getting the viral load down very quickly,” Kemp said.

Dr. Alexandre Malek, the Infectious Disease Physician at Ochsner LSU Health said the sooner you take the synthetic antibody, the better. Not only for the patients but the hospitals, too.

“Monoclonal antibody will alleviate, will decrease the tension on the hospital and may improve capacity,” he said.

The therapy – typically using regeneron – has evolved right along with the virus as new variants have emerged.

“And since December they were able to stay on top of it and to adapt the antibody …  the content of the antibodies to kind of keep up with the variant along the way,” Kemp said. “So, the one we were given in December is actually transformed to what we have given now that’s kind of more current with the variant is in our area,” Kemp said, adding Christus are doing more infusions than ever.

“During the February and March months wind our load in the area got lighter. We were doing probably 5 infusions a week; since last week we’ve done close to 150,” she said.

Infusion therapy only takes thirty minutes, but patients are monitored for reactions.

Covid patients who have received the infusion are advised to wait 90 days before taking the covid-19 vaccine.

A referral from a doctor is required to get the treatment.

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