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Doctors and state leaders hope therapeutic treatment will help reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations

Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -More than 2,400 Louisianans across the state are hospitalized with COVID-19, overwhelming hospitals and hospital staff.

State leaders and doctors are now encouraging another therapeutic treatment, monoclonal antibodies to keep people diagnosed with COVID-19 out of the hospital.

50 hospitals across the state are asking for more help as they don’t have the staff to care for the thousands hospitalized from the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“I’d like to again ask you to avoid an emergency room,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter.

The state health department’s Dr. Joseph Kanter asked those newly diagnosed with COVID-19 to ask their own doctors about a therapeutic treatment to help keep them out of the hospital.

“If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are not hospitalized and you are early in your time, you might be a candidate to receive monoclonal antibodies,” said Kanter.

“The monoclonal antibodies are provided through an infusion, they set up an IV, put it in, and it takes about an hour to infuse it. You’re getting millions and millions of copies of the antibodies that will neutralize the coronavirus,” said Susan Hassig, DrPH, MPH.

“It’s a very very solid very proven technology,” said Lucio Miele, M.D., Ph.D.

The FDA still references Dr. Lucio Miele’s research on monoclonal antibodies.

“Monoclonal antibodies have been around for decades,” said Miele.

He explained how these antibodies are made in huge quantities in a lab to help target the COVID-19 virus but are at their most effective when used a couple of days after a diagnosis.

“The idea is to block the virus before it manages to get a foothold and multiply to a point where you’re reaching a point of non-return, that’s why they’re not recommended for people hospitalized or in the ICU because by then it’s too late,” said Miele.

Years before COVID-19 took hold across the globe, Miele said monoclonal antibodies were used in a variety of treatments, from breast cancer to autoimmune diseases.

He says for COVID, it’s most effective when used to treat those in higher-risk categories.

“There are some very clear criteria that include being overweight hypertension cardiovascular disease and other conditions associated with higher risk, and interestingly age is no longer included in this criteria because we now know the new variance can be very dangerous for younger people,” said Miele.

While still a treatment to help keep people out of the hospital, Miele says the vaccine is still a better option.

“This is an arms race we need to use what we have as quickly as possible before the virus finds a way around it,” said Miele.

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