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State unveils ‘rapid response’ unit to provide antibody therapy for COVID-19 patients

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Jacksonville, Fla. Thursday.(The Florida Channel)
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 1:08 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WWSB) - State health and emergency management officials on Thursday announced the development of a rapid response unit able to offer monoclonal antibody therapy for certain COVID-19 patients.

Speaking in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a mobile unit similar to a bloodmobile to be set up in that city. The state will also explore an additional long-term location at the Jacksonville Public Library, as well as other locations throughout the state, he said.

“These treatments have been proven successful, with clinical trials resulting in a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death for COVID patients.”

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm. Monoclonal antibodies may also neutralize a virus.

It’s not a treatment for everyone, the FDA says. The drugs will be used only by healthcare providers to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years of age and older weighing at least 88 pounds, and who are high risk for hospitalization or death.

The therapy can’t be used by people already hospitalized due to COVID-19, or who require oxygen therapy, the FDA says.

“These monoclonal antibody therapy sites will expand access to proven effective COVID-19 treatment,” said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, the chief medical officer for the state’s Department of Emergency Management. “The treatment reduces severe illness, hospitalization and death risk by 70%, and reduces the odds of household contacts developing COVID-19 by 82%,” he said.

According to the treatment guidelines, the therapy should be administered as soon as possible after diagnosis, and within 10 days of symptom onset. By providing access to these treatments at these new sites, DeSantis said it should alleviate demand on hospital resources.

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