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New COVID antibody treatment at Tucson Medical Center

Keeps early cases from becoming severe
Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 21:22:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucson Medical Center has a new treatment designed to keep COVID patients from getting sick enough to need hospitalization. The program is free under the Federal Disaster Medical System.

Don’t confuse this treatment with a vaccination. Vaccines are designed to keep you from getting COVID. Monoclonal antibody treatment is an IV drip for people already sick. It’s designed to amp up the immune response and fight off the virus before it’s bad enough to require hospital treatment.

The treatment is prioritized for people who test positive for COVID and have extra risk factors like being age 65 or older, overweight: having a Body Mass Index of 35 or greater, kidney disease, diabetes, immune system disease.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services chose Tucson Medical Center as just the second spot in the country to host an antibody infusion center.

Doctor John Redd of HHS says if you have any of those risk factors and you test positive ask your doctor to get you into antibody treatment before severe symptoms kick in.

“People know. They know their weight, and they know their age. And I would say to people in the audience to consider both of those things and we strongly urge people, particularly in those two categories to contact their primary provider or obtain testing in sites such as drive in tests.”

HHS says the clinic at Tucson Medical Center can treat about 40 patients a day.

You can find more details on how to get the antibody treatment at this link.

Pima County Health Director Doctor Terry Cullen says just two hours in a clinic for an antibody infusion could keep a patient from adding to the overload in our hospitals.

“We repeatedly remind people that we are in a surge situation for the hospitals we have limited ICU beds we have limited medical surgical beds, and we have increased death and increased rates of this of COVID.”

Doctor Cullen says because COVID is a special risk to people in nursing homes, Pima County is working to bring antibody treatments to those facilities.