With Limited Availability, Antibody Treatments Aren’t Curbing Lubbock Hospitalizations

The treatment can help keep some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 out of the hospital. But Texas only has 3,500 doses per week to divvy up.

By Jill Ament & Caroline CovingtonDecember 18, 2020 12:32 pm,

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has touted monoclonal antibody therapy as an important part of keeping coronavirus cases down in Texas. But even though these therapies have been available for a few weeks (and are unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine), certain parts of the state like Lubbock are still dealing with high rates of hospitalizations.

Jeremy Blackman is a health and politics reporter at the Houston Chronicle. He told Texas Standard that the problem is not the efficacy of the antibody treatment, which has been shown to help 1 in 20 people with coronavirus symptoms stay out of intensive care units. The problem is getting access to it.

“It’s not necessarily any indictment on the actual treatment. It’s the fact that there’s just not a lot of the treatment available across the country,” Blackman said.

In Lubbock, where cases are growing by the hundreds each day, only a few hundred doses of the treatment are available. He says the state has just 3,500 treatments per week to divvy up across all of Texas.

In addition to the vaccine, this treatment could mean the difference between life and death for some people. Blackman says those that could benefit the
most are the elderly and those with additional health problems like diabetes or kidney disease.

This is really targeted at keeping people from needing to go into, like, an ICU wing, which really doesn’t have much – you don’t have a great rate of getting out of an ICU wing once you’re there with COVID,” he said.

Despite the limited availability of the treatment, hospitals are still looking for candidates for the treatment. Blackman suggests reaching out to a local hospital or health authority if you or someone you know could benefit from it. But he said don’t wait; there’s a short window of time when it’s most effective.

“It’s important to note here that this is not a matter of, take a couple of days,” he said. “Hours make a big difference here.”

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