State encourages people 65 and older who test positive for COVID-19 to consider antibody treatment

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 6:18 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The COVID-19 vaccine may be in limited supply but Dr. Eric Troxell with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said a treatment for people who already have the disease is readily available.

Since early December, the state has offered monoclonal antibody infusions to people who have tested positive and are considered at high risk for developing a serious case of COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration gave its emergency authorization of the treatment the month before.

In Anchorage, the one-time treatments take place at the Alaska Airlines Center, where Troxell said about 80 people have already had them.

“The medication is about an hour infusion,” said Troxell. “So the antibodies are added to some IV fluids and then those are given usually through the arm, through a vein. And then the patients remain here for an hour after that, and basically, it mimics our body’s own immune response.”

Troxell said the treatment has been shown in clinical trials to lessen symptoms of the disease and reduce hospitalizations.

“It’s really to prevent the patient with mild symptoms to progressing to severe symptoms and needing a hospitalization,” he said.

People who can qualify for the free treatments must be 65 years or older and test positive for COVID-19. They must be experiencing mild to moderate symptoms for less than 10 days. Troxell said younger people considered at high risk such as those with a chronic health condition, diabetes or obesity may also qualify.

People who are interested should contact their medical provider to discuss the treatment and get a referral. Those who don’t have a provider can call (907) 764-3142 to discuss options with a state-provided medical provider.

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