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Monoclonal antibody treatment can help people avoid severe COVID

Nurse Janet Gilleran prepares to treat COVID-19 patient Mike Mokler with bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody drug from Eli Lilly, at the Respiratory Infection Clinic of Tufts Medical Center in Boston on Dec. 31, 2020.
Craig F. Walker
Boston Globe via Getty Images
Monoclonal antibodies are given as an infusion.

Monoclonal antibody treatments can help prevent severe COVID in high-risk people. Southern Illinois Healthcare is working to make them more available.

SIH has infusion centers in Herrin and Harrisburg and have been treating an average of 90 patients per week.

The treatments are available for anyone 18 or older who is at high risk for severe COVID.

Monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of a positive test. SIH chief medical director Sara Malone said people shouldn't wait until the last minute.

"The sooner they get the treatment the better the outcome. They have be within 10 days of a symptom or a positive test, but we don't want to wait until those 10 days, we want to get them as soon as possible," she said.

Malone also said monoclonal antibodies are not a substitute for vaccination.

"My first recommendation to patients is always vaccination. You shouldn't not do vaccination and put all your hopes in a MAB treatment?" she said. "You should do the vaccination and try to reduce your risk of severe illness or even getting COVID, but if you happen to still get it despite the vaccination, then we have this treatment that we can offer you."

Anyone who thinks they may qualify should contact their family doctor or call the SIH COVID hotline to get connected to a physician.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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