People infected with COVID-19 were shown in this week’s photo lying on a painful floor while waiting for antibody infusions at a treatment facility located in a library in Jacksonville, Florida. This image clearly shows the huge demand for the once neglected COVID-19 drug in the state that was hit hardest by the surge in
People infected with COVID-19 were shown in this week’s photo lying on a painful floor while waiting for antibody infusions at a treatment facility located in a library in Jacksonville, Florida.
This image clearly shows the huge demand for the once neglected COVID-19 drug in the state that was hit hardest by the surge in summer infections caused by the highly contagious delta mutant.
“They were moaning and obviously feeling a lot of pain. They were miserable,” said Ruy Lopez, who took the picture when he waited more than two hours to receive treatment.
Antibody treatment is one of the few treatments that can mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19 and is the only option available to people with mild to moderate cases who have not yet been hospitalized.
Demand is rising in states where unvaccinated hospitalizations are overwhelming the healthcare system, such as Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, and where infections are skyrocketing.
White House officials recently reported that federal shipments of drugs increased five-fold last month to nearly 110,000, with the majority going to low-vaccination states.
Dr. Marcella Nunes-Smith, Senior Advisor to the White House’s COVID-19 response team, said:
The main drug used is Regeneron’s double-antibody cocktail, which is purchased in large quantities by the US government. This is the same drug that former President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalized for COVID-19 last October.
The drug is a laboratory-made version of a virus blocking antibody that helps fight infections. Treatment helps the patient by supplying a concentrated dose of one or two antibodies.
The drug is recommended only for people at the highest risk of developing severe COVID-19, but regulators have gradually expanded the number of people who can qualify. Currently, the list of conditions includes older, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy, and more than half a dozen other problems.
More people are being treated due to increased eligibility and a surge in caseloads across the country.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is being treated for the virus this week, said five state-owned COVID-19 antibody infusion centers opened last week and four more by Monday. His office said at least 140 providers offer antibody therapies across Texas.
In Florida, an average of more than 20,000 people test positive for the virus each day, and rising demand has created an overwhelming emergency room-like scene in the heart of Jacksonville.
At one point, Lopez said the staff brought a paper hospital gown and covered the woman on the floor. It took more than 30 minutes to bring out enough wheelchairs for the staff to sit down.
“They poured them into a wheelchair,” he said. “They were very ill.”
Florida health officials said they had increased the number of wheelchairs in the facility after the photo was released Wednesday. They also said it was open 24/7, with plenty of cribs and ambulances waiting to transfer the most sick patients to the hospital.
“None of our sites have capacity issues,” said Weesam Khoury, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health. “We have the resources, and if you need more, you can get it right away.”
But she warned, “This is a site where people get very sick.”
As a result, state health officials require patients who test positive for COVID to receive antibody treatment immediately, rather than waiting for the extreme illness that many patients do. ..
Last week, Florida set up about 12 monoclonal antibody clinics with an online portal for bookings, typically serving 300 patients per day.
There are several steps required to get the drug.
A positive test for COVID-19 is required and needs to be reviewed by a doctor or medical professional. Then decide whether to recommend antibody treatment to the patient. This usually means scheduling a reservation at the local government.
To be effective, the drug is to be given within 10 days of the first symptom. It is a time frame that has been shown to reduce hospitalization and mortality rates by approximately 70%.
Medical experts agreed that the drug should not be considered a front-line defense against the virus, or a substitute for vaccination by wearing a mask.
Dr. James Catrel of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said: “We definitely need to continue vaccination as many people as possible.”
Joyce Wachsmuth and her husband in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, became infected with COVID-19 in January. As a breast cancer survivor, she hadn’t had much pain.
“I actually wondered if these 10 days would be something that people with COVID would pass through. I don’t know if I want to live,” she said.
She jumped at the opportunity when a local Mayo Clinic doctor told a 67-year-old woman that she and her 70-year-old husband were the first choice for experimental drug treatment.
She said she felt relieved just two hours after the one-hour IV treatment.
“It was strange. It kept us away from hospitals and ventilators,” said Vaccinated Wachsmuth.
The federal government has been distributing monoclonal antibody drugs to the state since last winter, but due to lack of doctor awareness, low public interest, and the logistics of setting up areas for administration to patients by infusion, treatment is not possible. It wasn’t fully utilized.
Persistent test delays also mean that many people were unable to obtain results for more than 7 days, and clinics are focusing on managing the next vaccine or winter surge in cases. I did.
Since then, many cities have set up alternative locations for administering drugs and providing vaccines. Treatment is free for most patients. This is primarily due to the federal government’s active involvement in securing and distributing treatment.
Dr. Arturo Casadeval of Johns Hopkins University said: “But the delta variant changed the equation.”