HealthcareStatewide NewsTexas Aims to Lower COVID-19 Hospitalizations by Setting Up Additional Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Centers

More monoclonal antibody infusion centers are being set up around Texas in an effort to reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations.
August 31, 2021
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With concerns being raised about continuing COVID-19 infections, the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) have set up more infusion centers around the state to provide monoclonal antibody treatments.

There are currently infusion centers set up in the following cities: Austin, Beaumont, The Woodlands, Corpus Christi, Edinburg, Fort Worth, Harlingen, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, Odessa, San Antonio, and Tyler. 

Additionally, over 200 private infusion centers offer the treatment, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Antibodies are best utilized early in the illness, Dr. Charles Lively, a doctor in private practice in Odessa who has made referrals of patients for antibody infusions, told The Texan.

He believes the antibody treatments will help reduce hospitalizations by “making a real impact on decreasing the viral load in the body and shortening the duration and severity of the illness.” 

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Lively likened the antibody treatment to “a sniper rifle aimed at the virus.” He believes it is a very safe and effective early treatment that patients should take advantage of if they can, whether they are vaccinated or not.

The treatment was developed by Regeneron and was granted an emergency use authorization by the Federal Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19.

Regeneron monoclonal antibodies are not authorized for use in hospitalized patients or those requiring oxygen therapy. The Regeneron website also warns that the treatment is contraindicated in patients with previous anaphylactic reactions.

When Governor Greg Abbott tested positive for COVID-19, he received the monoclonal antibodies as part of his treatment. 

In order to receive the antibody infusion, a patient must have a positive COVID-19 test, have a provider referral, and have at least one risk factor such as obesity, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. Though funded by tax dollars, treatment is given at no immediate cost to the patient.

Lively was impressed by the simplicity of making a referral and the organization of the infusion center staff in Odessa. 

According to TDEM, over 8,000 infusions have been administered statewide since the centers were first set up. Centers providing treatment can be located through the TDEM website. 

While antibody infusions can reduce hospitalization by 70 percent or greater, they are not available to everyone. 

Lively suggests working with a primary care physician and asking about the off-label use of ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine along with other appropriate medications. 

“I can not stress early intervention enough,” Lively stated. “We are finding that there is good data to say that we should consider other medications in conjunction to reduce the inflammatory response.” Each decision must be made individually based on risks and benefits of the patient, he added.

He recommended that patients acquire the early treatment guide developed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which explains the big picture and includes an early treatment algorithm.

Dr. Peter McCullough of Dallas published an early treatment algorithm last summer in the American Journal of Medicine. His algorithm has been “updated…to include bamlanivimab, casirivimab and imdevimab, and ivermectin.” Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment includes casirirvimab and imdevimab. 

Lively also recommends, in light of COVID-19, that everyone “get healthy” by losing weight if needed, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, and taking vitamins like vitamin C, D, and zinc.

DSHS recently tweeted an alert stating that the Texas Poison Control Network (TPCN) has received a 150 percent increase in calls for ivermectin exposure in July and August. TPCN received 87 calls from those taking ivermectin to treat COVID-19. “Most of the calls were about people experiencing mild symptoms, but for 52 (33%), the patient was either on the way to a health care facility or was referred to a health care facility, suggesting more severe effects,” the more detailed advisory explained.

Although the alert emphatically stated that ivermectin doesn’t work to treat COVID-19 infections, the advisory also acknowledged that it may be prescribed and recommended that people “take it exactly as prescribed.”

Many doctors, including McCullough, Lively, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons disagree that ivermectin is ineffective in COVID-19 treatment and include it in their treatment protocols. Ivermectin is also included in the World Health Organization’s list of essential medications.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.