New antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients coming to Mississippi hospitals

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) shared some relieving news about COVID-19 treatments on the way.

Pfizer and Moderna both produced vaccines with a 90% or more efficiency rate, which could be ready for health care workers and certain vulnerable people between now and Christmas. An antibody treatment option is right around the corner for some patients.

As of Monday afternoon, doctors at UMMC reported there are no available ICU beds in Jackson Hospitals, making an antibody treatment option for some patients crucial to lower hospitalizations.

“This particular antibody has an emergency use authorization just for outgoing patients,” Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Alan Jones said. “So, it’s for patients in high-risk groups down to the age of 12 years old. The patients cannot be sick enough to be hospitalized and it’s one infusion. The goal is to keep them out of the hospital and keep them from decompensating more.”

This treatment is set for distribution in the next 48 hours covered through the federal government. In the meantime, doctors are still predicting additions to the current spike to follow Thanksgiving.

“If I had to bet you a dollar today whether or not we would see a spike after the holiday, I would bet you a dollar we would,” Vice-Chancellor Dr. LouAnn Woodward explained. “I wish we wouldn’t, but I think that is just the reality.”

If you do celebrate Thanksgiving, UMMC released some tips to do it safely.

  • Encourage elderly people or those with medical conditions not to travel to your home. Explain the risks, including the chance of hospitalization and the need for oxygen therapy if they contract the virus.
  • If you do have guests coming in from outside your household, advise them to quarantine for 14 days before traveling.
  • Ask visitors to get a COVID-19 test 48 hours before their arrival.
  • Ask guests if they’ve gotten their flu shot, and if they haven’t, encourage them to do so before visiting your home.
  • Plan in terms of having adequate social distancing – 6 feet – between guests, and move the celebration outdoors, if possible.
  • Thoroughly disinfect your home before and after hosting guests. Make sure guests have easy access to hand sanitizer and masks and access to a sink for washing their hands.
  • When serving a Thanksgiving meal, don’t allow people to fill their plates buffet-style.
  • Finally, consider keeping the Thanksgiving celebration to the nuclear family living in your home and Zoom or FaceTime with friends and relatives as everyone gathers for their meal.

“People traveling from all over the country I would say is not a good idea,” Dr. Woodward added. “There’s some other parts of the country that are seeing more active outbreaks than we’re seeing here. You see somebody you haven’t seen for a while and you’re giving them lots of hugs and that sort of thing and you don’t know if they have the virus.”

If this increase carries over, UMMC staff are most concerned if they can manage the manpower needed, because some doctors and nurses are already forced to call out due to catching the coronavirus themselves or having close contact.

To get the antibody treatment patients must first test positive then get access after meeting requirements through the UMMC emergency department. Administering the antibody would be covered by insurance.

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