WORCESTER, Mass. - There’s another treatment available in the fight against COVID-19.
Just a handful of medical organizations are giving out a monoclonal antibody treatment. The first patient at UMass Memorial’s Hahnemann campus was seen on Wednesday.
“We feel better," Dr. Sandeep Jubbal said. "We kind of feel confident that we'll be able to control this pandemic, and as infectious disease doctor, this is really exciting to see that we have more options now."
Dr. Jubbal says treatments have come a long way since the pandemic started. Nurses walked through the therapy, which is done though an IV. The antibodies can be given to patients who have mild or moderate symptoms within 10 days after they begin.
“The rational of giving this treatment is to prevent the progression from mild disease to severity, and with severity, I mean, the risk for hospitalization and mortality," Dr. Jubbal said.
Medical leaders say so far the results are good, with no known side effects. In a clinical trial, the drugs reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 87 percent. The therapy is effective against the different strains of the virus including the highly infectious delta variant.
“To be able to say that this is something that's free, is truly incredible that we have this kind of treatment. It's available, it's available to all. That's truly impressive,” Dr. Mattie Castiel, Worcester's Health and Human Services Commissioner, said.
Health leaders are reminding people vaccination is still the best protection against the virus, but say its important to have a treatment for people who can’t get the vaccine or who are hesitant.
"We do hope that as few patients as possible will need this facility. But if they do, we will be ready in Central Mass. for whatever turn COVID takes next," UMass Memorial Medical Center president Dr. Michael Gustafson, said.
The program is federally funded. Patients who want to see if they're eligible for the treatment can contact 855-UMASS-MD.