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UVA working to get monoclonal antibody treatment

UVA Medical Center
UVA Medical Center
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Getting vaccinated is the strongest defense against COVID-19, but what if you can’t get vaccinated?

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for monoclonal antibody treatment which can be given to those who are immunocompromised or have had severely adverse reactions to a vaccine.

“That is the first drug we can give you before you get exposed to COVID-19 to prevent you from getting sick,” Patrick Jackson, an assistant professor of infectious disease at the University of Virginia.

The drug, an injection, works before a COVID-19 exposure and lasts for six months. The treatment is only for those who are medically unable to be vaccinated.

“Its a possibility for people who have a true medical contraindication to vaccination as in a very severe allergy to COVID-19 vaccines, the vast majority of people are able to get vaccinated. I think the main role for this drop is really going to be in folks who are immunocompromised,” Jackson said.

This treatment comes at an important time.

“We still, unfortunately, have a huge problem with delta right now even before omicron gets through. So 70% more cases in Virginia today than two weeks ago. So so so there’s, you know, there’s some bad news, " Dr. Bill Petri of the UVA Medical Center said.

50,000 doses were distributed to states across the United States. UVA Health is working with the Virginia Department of Health to make the treatment available.

“We are purely at the mercy of the federal government and getting it to VDH and then VDH getting it to us. So I’m hopeful within the next few weeks we’ll be able to start getting into patients,” Jackson said.

For those who can get vaccinated, getting boosted will be key in slowing the spread of the disease over the holiday season.

“I think everything everything’s very hopeful long term because of vaccines. But short term we’re in for a tough time over the holidays. So just be super careful,” Petri said.

UVA Medical Center is currently working with a multidisciplinary group to determine which patients would receive the treatment first.

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