Three hospital systems in Louisville are offering monoclonal antibody treatments, which have been shown to be highly effective at reducing hospitalizations for high-risk COVID patients.
These treatments are more expensive and require more manpower to administer than vaccines, so health officials do not consider them to be a replacement for getting your COVID jab.
In Louisville, monoclonal antibodies are administered by Norton, UofL and Baptist health care. The state has a new website with instructions on how to sign up for treatments with each hospital system.
These hospitals are prioritizing patients based on their risk factor, said Kentucky’s Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. So, it’s not guaranteed you’ll receive the treatment you want. Monoclonal antibodies are for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, and they’re administered in order to prevent patients from getting worse.
If you’re vaccinated, you develop antibodies against the virus, explained Dr. Joe Flynn, chief administrative officer of Norton Medical Group. With the monoclonal treatment, manufactured antibodies are introduced to your body via IV.
The United States is also experiencing a shortage of the drugs used in monoclonal antibody treatments, so Kentucky’s and other states’ access was recently restricted by the federal government.
Still, the federal government is distributing these treatments based on need, so Kentucky received 3% of the country’s supply last week, despite only making up 1.3% of the United States’ population. That added up to 6,100 doses for Kentucky.
So far, demand for the treatment has not exceeded Kentucky’s supply, but it did get close last week.
This week, some antibody administration sites reported to the state that demand was going down, which Dr. Stack attributed to lower COVID positivity rates. Dr. Stack said that monoclonal antibody treatments reduce the likelihood that a COVID patient will be hospitalized by 75-80%.
Dr. Joe Flynn, chief administrative officer of Norton Medical Group said that the hospital is currently treating 140-150 people a day with monoclonal antibodies. Only 10-12% of the people who the hospital has treated have been admitted to the hospital. Currently, the vast majority of those who are receiving the treatment at Norton are unvaccinated.
“It really is an important treatment option,” said Flynn, later adding, “I look at the monoclonal antibodies like having a fire extinguisher in your house. Your house catches on fire, and you can hopefully put out the fire. Whereas, I look at the vaccine as installing sprinklers in your house. So the first sign of smoke, it puts out a fire.”
Keep Louisville interesting and support LEO Weekly by subscribing to our newsletter here. In return, you’ll receive news with an edge and the latest on where to eat, drink and hang out in Derby City.