Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash
On Christmas Eve, my dad received a positive COVID-19 test. His symptoms were not the same as those my mom had when she got ill with the coronavirus in October. Somehow, despite living in the same household, my dad, who is over 65 managed to avoid getting it when she had it.
The first several days, my dad had stomach issues that kept him from being able to eat or drink normally. He also had a low-grade fever. He wasn't having breathing issues. Unfortunately, shortly after Christmas, he ended up starting to have breathing problems, which quickly escalated.
My mother had purchased an oximeter when she had the virus, and my dad's oxygen saturation was in the high 80s and low 90s, which is when doctors typically recommend seeking medical care.
The Monday after Christmas, I happened to see that the Oklahoma Arthritis Center in Edmond, OK opened a monoclonal antibodies infusion clinic for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. I forwarded the information to my mom, and she called on Tuesday, December 29 to see if my dad could get the infusion. That was day eight of his symptoms.
My mom called at 8 a.m., and things moved rapidly. The clinic needed a copy of his positive COVID-19 test, so she got his doctor's office to fax that. Once they received it, my dad had a virtual visit with a doctor from the infusion clinic, and they scheduled his infusion for noon. He lives nearly two hours away, so my parents had to leave.
With his oxygen levels, my dad was almost too sick to get the infusion, but he managed to make it through the ride to the clinic and received the infusion, which takes roughly one hour followed by an hour of observation.
It truly seemed as if my dad would need to go to the hospital soon. However, it seems like the infusion stopped the progression of the illness.
My dad stopped running a fever on Wednesday, December 30, and he slowly regained his appetite. His doctor had supplemental oxygen delivered to his house, and he started using it. Every day he has improved slightly, and is able to eat and drink, regaining strength.
Monoclonal Antibodies Infusion
This infusion is approved for emergency use for individuals with a positive COVID-19 test who are considered at high risk of needing hospitalization with COVID-19. The drugs approved for emergency use are Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab and Regeneron’s casirivimab/imdevimab.
The earlier in the illness, the better for receiving the infusion. It should be administered within 10 days of the onset of symptoms.
NPR recently reported that these treatments have not been as widely used as they could be because of logistical issues giving them to patients. They require an infusion, which takes time, and many healthcare systems are overwhelmed treating COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
It is also difficult for patients to get to the clinics to get the treatment because most involve a car ride.
Several hospitals in Oklahoma offer the treatment, including Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee. Other hospital systems in the state have set up infusion clinics. For people in a high-risk category, it is important to ask your doctor about the treatment as soon as you receive a positive test because the timing matters.
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