Some seek to expand antibody treatment to keep mild COVID patients out of the hospital
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As cases surge from the Delta variant, some private physicians in Hawaii are rushing to set up antibody treatment clinics to keep people out of overwhelmed hospitals.
It’s a treatment that’s already being offered by hospitals on an outpatient basis for people with mild to moderate symptoms.
Before it can be administered on a wider scale, state leaders say federal reinforcements are needed.
Dr. Scott Miscovich, of Premier Medical Group, is working to expand a project offering Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID patients who are not hospitalized.
“I have been administering it over the last three days and we are doing very close follow-ups,” Miscovich said. “Regeneron is another one of the tools in our tool belt, or arrows in our quiver to reduce the death and reduce the hospitalization.”
“It’s almost like an antibiotic for the coronavirus. When you are identified as being high risk and positive, then you will get four little shots which are very simple or an IV infusion and it immediately starts working,” he added.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is under the FDA’s emergency use authorization and clinics have popped up all over the mainland.
Miscovich says antibody treatment is not a cure for COVID-19 or a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Regeneron is for when you’ve already contracted the disease and you have a chance of having severe risk which we know are obesity, diabetes, heart disease, congenital heart disease, immunosuppression, lung disease, HIV and advanced age,” said Miscovich.
At a hearing Friday before the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, lawmakers learned that monoclonal antibody treatment is offered by hospitals and federally qualified health centers, but they asked why the treatment wasn’t offered on a wide scale.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii says overwhelmed hospital staff are waiting for 30 FEMA reinforcements to beef up treatments.
“We don’t have any more personnel to expand it ourselves so we are having to bring federally funded civilian personnel to expand the capacity even further,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.
State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char stressed that the treatment won’t replace getting vaccinated and so shouldn’t be seen as a fail-safe for those who haven’t gotten the shot.
“It will temporarily boost your immune system just for that single exposure that you had,” she said.
“It’s not a panacea. It doesn’t protect you for the next month or anything like that. It’s a very, very temporary thing.”
She added, “You need to tailor it to patient use. It’s been available. We’ve been using it and we are trying to ramp up to use.”
The state health director added the treatment requires a doctor’s order and strict medical supervision. It’s not for those already hospitalized.
Meanwhile, 82-year-old former Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he’s volunteering with Miscovich’s antibody effort that’s hoping to expand pop up clinics statewide.
With any treatment, talk to your health care provider.
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