East Texas medical providers hope antibody treatments keep COVID-19 patients out of hospital

Monoclonal antibodies could help patients avoid hospitalization, severe illness
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas (KLTV) - The surge in COVID-19 patients is driving demand for antibody treatments, like the one given to Gov. Gregg Abbott last week. The infusions are a way to keep people out of the hospitals, and work best when given early. And they’re being given to eligible patients right here in East Texas.

“This is allowing us to keep those patients at home,” said Terry Scoggin, CEO of Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. “Regeneron is an outpatient treatment. They’re not getting sicker, so that’s freeing up those beds for the really sick patients that we’re having to deal with in the hospital.”

Treatments like Regenron’s REGEN-COV is among the antibody treatments being used by medical providers across the state, like those at Titus Regional Medical Center. REGEN-COV is authorized by the FDA to prevent severe COVID-19 in high-risk patients. These antibody treatments are given by way of an IV infusion or injection.

“We’re seeing that have a huge impact,” Scoggin said. “We’re averaging anywhere between 10 to 12 infusions a day. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot to a lot of large health systems in Texas and in this area, but the most we did in previous three surges was two to three a day.”

The treatment does have its limits, according to the company that makes it. REGEN-COV is not authorized for patients already hospitalized or requiring oxygen therapy. The treatment’s maker says it could actually result in worse outcomes when given to hospitalized patients requiring high flow oxygen or ventilation.

“Patients would need to meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the Fact Sheet – namely, they’d be at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, which could be due to age, being overweight, other conditions (such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases) or have other medical conditions or factors (like race or ethnicity),” said Regeneron’s Tammy Allen. “REGEN-COV should also be delivered as soon as possible.”

And when asked if the treatment should be treated as a substitute for vaccination, Allen said absolutely not.

“No, REGEN-COV is not a substitute for vaccination,” Allen said. “Vaccines remain the number one strategy in containing the spread of COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies such as REGEN-COV can play an important complementary role to vaccines in the post-exposure prophylaxis setting by providing rapid protection for people in certain situations at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.”

Allen says the treatment is currently in demand in areas hit hard by the virus, like Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.

Other East Texas hospitals, like UT Health East Texas, confirm they are also using antibody treatments with eligible patients.

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