What is a monoclonal antibody treatment? A Springfield doctor explains

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Jordan Valley Community Health Center (JVCHC) has set up a centralized infusion center with the help of the state.

The center is part of the request the city made to the state on July 14th for more medical personnel and equipment.

Jordan Valley is now accepting high-risk COVID-19 patients to receive treatment of proteins called monoclonal antibodies.

The treatment helps improve symptoms of COVID-19 for those at a higher risk for hospitalization, including those with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Jordan Valley started giving out antibodies in late 2020. Since there’s a new variant, they had to change which antibodies were used to treat patients.

“It has to do with the proteins that the virus displays on the capsule,” JVCHC Executive Vice President and Family Physician Dr. Matthew Stinson said. “The antibodies are made to attack different proteins on the capsule.”

Patients will need a request from a doctor or pharmacist to receive the treatment.

Typically, the patients receiving these treatments do not have severe symptoms. Instead, this treatment lessens symptoms to prevent more severe symptoms that could lead to further complications.

“What this does is lower your viral load,” Stinson said. “The antibodies bind to the virus particle and make them so they can’t enter the cells. This keeps them from continuing to build inflammation that’s going on in the body.”

There are 10 beds set up for patients to receive the treatment. 8 infusions were completed on Friday. The infusion process takes about 3 hours – 30 minutes for prep-work, 50 minutes for the IV infusion, and 1 hour of observation. Patients should expect to feel better within 24 to 48 hours. Their symptoms should subside in 7 days. The antibodies will last in the patients body for about 3 months.

“Back in the fall and winter, we were doing [infusions] mostly in those who were 65-years-old and up who had major risk factors,” Stinson said. “Right now we’re doing many more [infusions] in the 20-year-old to 45-year-old group with people who just have obesity as a risk factor.”

The risks of antibody treatment are very small. Stinson said some people will have a rare allergic reaction to the antibodies and break out in hives.

“That’s why we have nursing, as well as physicians and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) there to be able to react to that,” Stinson said.

Patients must have a driver to bring them to and from their appointment.

“A lot of [patients] are very fatigued and weak in general,” Clinical Pharmacist Lisa Cillessen said. “We obviously don’t want those patients on the road. We want them alert.”

Jordan Valley said it is wanting to ramp up to 30 infusions a day by Monday.

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