EL PASO, Texas -- Across the state of Texas, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are continuing to increase. With hospital bed capacity in the Lone Star state becoming increasingly thin medical experts are turning to another treatment in hopes of giving patients a fighting chance. Monoclonal antibody infusions are on the rise as a way to help curb hospitalizations.
"That is the goal of this infusion is to really help high risk patients avoid severe symptoms and hospitalization, so definitely I would say we are making a dent in hospitalizations and really avoiding hospitalizations for patients that are at high risk," said Cory Grijalva, director of infusion clinics with The Hospitals of Providence in El Paso.
The treatment used to be provided by the City of El Paso at the Convention Center last year, but that effort came to a close in March of this year. After the city provided its last treatment, The Hospitals of Providence took over as the provider to ensure the community had access to this beneficial therapy.
It's not just in El Paso where this treatment is being made available, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he too would be receiving the treatment, after testing positive for Covid-19.
In a statement, the governo'rs office said the following:
“Governor Abbott’s doctor prescribed Regeneron's monoclonal antibody therapy treatment, which is available at no cost to all Texans who get a doctor’s referral. It is recommended that Texans testing positive for Covid-19 seek this antibody therapeutic drug because of its effectiveness to help keep people out of hospitals. Today, the Governor announced the continued expansion of Covid-19 Antibody Infusion Centers across Texas. That is in addition to more than 140 providers that are providing antibody treatment at hospitals and clinics across the state.”
There's no word however if this expansion of clinics offering the monoclonal antibody treatment will further expand in El Paso. The treatment is relatively quick to administer to patients over the age of 12.
"It's a 30-minute infusion, then we watch the patient for a full hour afterwards to make sure there is no allergic reaction - and if there is an allergic reaction, we are very equipped to take care of it," Grijalva said.
The treatment is meant for those who have come into close contact with a Covid-19 infected person and within 10 days of their first sign of symptoms.
Below are the complete list of qualifiers for the infusion:
- Tested positive for Covid-19
- Non-hospitalized adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older
- Mild to moderate symptoms
- Within 10 days of symptom onset
The treatment is also available to those that have had a breakthrough Covid-19 case.
"In the small number of cases where vaccinated individuals have had breakthrough cases of Covid-19, and the referring physician feels this would be beneficial treatment to them based on risk assessment, it has been administered," said Monique Poessiger, a spokeswoman for The Hospitals of Providence.