IDAHO — At Governor Little's direction, the state is working to establish three monoclonal antibody treatment centers. Health experts say, if administered early, the treatment can help prevent a person from getting so sick that they need to be hospitalized, preserving crucial hospital beds.
As Idaho hospital beds fill up with COVID-19 patients, the health department is working quickly to set up infusion centers to increase monoclonal antibody treatment access across the state.
“We are hoping, as early next week, we might have a monoclonal infusion center opened up in north Idaho,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn during a media briefing on Tuesday.
Local health officials say clinical studies show the treatment to be effective.
“Relatively new treatment, it is still under emergency use authorization, but the clinical studies show that it’s very safe, very well-tolerated and that clinical trials report that there is 70 percent reduction in the risk of getting hospitalized with one of these monoclonal treatments,” Dr. Hahn said.
St. Luke’s Health System is already offering the treatment to some COVID-19 patients.
“St. Luke’s is using the Regeneron, which is also called Regen-COV monoclonal antibody, and that has been shown to be effective against the COVID virus, including the delta variant,” said Laura McGeorge, St. Luke’s System Medical Director for Primary Care.
Former President Donald Trump was treated with Regeneron antibody therapy when he fell ill with COVID-19 last year.
McGeorge says people with certain conditions could qualify for the treatment.
“It’s really for anyone who is at risk for hospitalization from COVID. I’ll run the list for some common things. If you are overweight, if you are over the age of 65, if you are pregnant, diabetic, have high blood pressure, have lung disease, have heart disease, immunocompromised, any of those kinds of conditions, then you could qualify for the monoclonal antibody. Also, time is of the essence, so we do want to give it as soon as possible after the diagnosis,” McGeorge said.
McGeorge says while the treatment has been effective, she adds the best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated.
“By far hands down the best thing is to not get COVID, and again, the way to do that is vaccination, as well as physical distancing and wearing a mask. That’s the best way to stay safe right now while we have this huge surge going on,” McGeorge said.