Why potentially life-saving monoclonal antibodies are going unused

Overburdened hospitals storing hundreds of thousands of doses

By: Derek Staahl
January 21, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — There is only one authorized treatment designed to keep high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital, but hundreds of thousands of doses of the same experimental therapy given to former President Donald Trump are sitting in storage.

Inundated hospitals have been slow to administer monoclonal antibodies because of what one infectious disease expert called a “perfect storm” of complicating factors. Some healthcare providers have refused doses altogether.

Those challenges include limits on staffing and space during the surge in cases, the length of time it takes to administer an infusion, and the short window providers have to reach patients who qualify for the treatment.

Still, federal and state health officials urged providers to expand access to the experimental therapy, which has shown promise in early stage trials. One clinical trial on the monoclonal antibody cocktail made by Regeneron found hospitalizations fell to 3 percent compared to 9 percent in the group that got a placebo.

At Family Health Centers of San Diego, they’ve converted a dentist’s office and some unused medical space into a monoclonal antibody infusion clinic.

“My feeling is that we need to do everything we can to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said assistant medical director Dr. Christian Ramers.

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