ADEL, Iowa — COVID-19 patients in Iowa now have access to monoclonal antibody treatments in some situations to prevent symptoms from becoming more severe.
The treatment is allocated to states through the federal government due to limited supply.
Sumpter Pharmacy in Adel is one of the sites that's approved to give the injections, and owner Leslie Herron said early reception has been positive.
"I've been told by everybody I've treated so far, they don't feel it," Herron said. "There's no sting, there's no burn, there's no nothing. It's just it's been extremely well tolerated."
How do monoclonal antibody treatments work?
Whenever you get sick, your body makes antibodies to fight the disease. Monoclonal antibodies work the same way—they're just made in a lab. Once injected, the antibodies attach to the surface of the virus.
"It makes the virus unable to enter a human cell," Herron said. So it renders it inactive, essentially. And therefore, we don't get any sicker."
Who's eligible for the treatment?
Patients must be at least 12 years old and 88 pounds. Then, they must meet one of two criteria:
1. Have a risk factor making them more vulnerable to the virus and have been exposed to it
2. Have tested positive for the virus and have experienced symptoms within the last 10 days
The antibodies are designed to reduce those symptoms—and they're effective at doing so.
"This is an absolute game changer," Herron said. "We get people better faster. We prevent people from getting sick in the first place. We are preventing hospital admissions. We're taking that stress off the health care system. We're saving billions of dollars that way and ultimately preventing deaths."
How to get it
If you're interested in getting the antibody treatment, it won't burn a hole in your pocket. Just like the vaccine, there are no out of pocket costs to the patient receiving it.
If you think you have COVID, do not go straight to the pharmacy for the treatment. Reach out in advance to coordinate a safe way to get it.
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