Limited Access to Lifesaving COVID-19 Treatment, Monoclonal Antibodies
Although monoclonal antibodies are proven to be one of the very few treatments for COVID-19, this lifesaving treatment is very hard to come by.
On Nov. 21, the monoclonal antibodies were authorized by the FDA to treat adults and children with mild to moderate COVID-19. This antibody treatment was designed for patients who had just been diagnosed with coronavirus and had a high chance of developing any kind of symptoms. The treatment aims to keep patients out of the hospital.
Despite the great results of this treatment, many hospitals are not using their full supply of monoclonal antibodies. The virus has put a huge strain on hospitals and healthcare workers, and the logistics of giving the treatment followed by outpatient pharmaceutical treatments presents a challenge for front line workers.
To properly administer the treatment, the patient has to be in a confined area where a nurse, in full protective gear, gives the treatment for an hour and watches over the patient for the following hour. The combination of time, overcrowded hospitals, healthcare workers new to administering and receiving the coronavirus vaccine makes it difficult to give the monoclonal antibody treatment at a rapid pace.
Over 800,000 patient courses of antibody treatments have been given to hospitals across the U.S. As of Jan. 18, over 550,000 of those treatment courses have been delivered to hospitals, but very few of those treatments are actually being given to patients. A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that only 5-20% of these treatments are being used.
Many patients and doctors do not know much about this treatment and do not know to ask for it. Although, one patient from Mississippi knew about the treatment, and his quick action may have saved his life.
Gary Herritz was desperate for a cure when he was diagnosed with coronavirus on Jan. 12 and quickly became ill. Herritz heard about the monoclonal antibodies from Twitter, after Donald Trump and other high-profile politicians received the “lifesaving” treatment.
Herritz had a “scratchy throat that had turned to a dry cough, headache, joint pain and fever,” and was worried because he had a “liver transplant in 2012 and a rejection scare in 2018.” After contacting his primary care doctor, transplant team and different health officials across four states, he finally made an appointment to receive what he hoped to be a lifesaving treatment.
The former community service officer said, “I am not rich, I am not special, I am not a political figure. I just called until someone would listen.”