Medical professionals are hoping that early intervention antibodies might help COVID patients with the severity of their illness.
Houston psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Brams contracted COVID last December before the vaccine was made available. When he was diagnosed, he made staying out of the hospital a priority.
“I had a lot of risk factors. I was older ... at that time 57, I was overweight. I had diabetes, sleep apnea, maybe mild heart disfunction. So, I didn’t want to end up in the ICU," he said.
Days after he tested positive, he received monoclonal antibody infusions through Memorial Hermann.
“It was painless, there were no side effects and it may have saved my life, but at the very least, it probably kept me out of going to the hospital," he said.
Dozens of providers across Houston have the treatment available. Houston Methodist has 800 appointments scheduled this week. The antibodies are generally available for anyone 12 years and older with mild symptoms who are at risk of severe illness.
Doctors at Memorial Hermann have treated hundreds of patients so far and Dr. Anamaria Macaluso-Davidson said the treatment can dramatically help reduce the severity of symptoms.
“For the large majority, patients are not progressing to severe illness and disease. They’re staying out of the hospital. They’re well and getting healthier faster,” Macaluso-Davidson said.
With hospitals and ICUs at or near capacity, Brams said he considers himself lucky. He said the goal should be protecting people from the virus in the first place.
“As a public service, everyone should be vaccinated," he said.
Memorial Hermann has a permanent location providing the infusions. It's at the Urgent Care/Greater Heights location but the hospital said patients can get the treatment by showing up at emergency departments.
Some of the criteria Memorial Hermann looks for in patients who can get the antibodies are the following:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 35
- Have immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are ≥ 65 years of age
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease