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Antibody treatment could decrease COVID-19 hospitalizations by 80%, researcher says

The study found that if people with mild to moderate illnesses get the treatments early on, then they can avoid severe illness and hospitalization.

AUSTIN, Texas — As Central Texas faces another COVID-19 surge, there is an antibody treatment one researcher said can help ease the burden on hospitals and intensive care units. 

Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies are a game-changer in fighting this disease, according to the doctor.

Prior to the treatment's availability, if someone tested positive for COVID-19 but wasn’t severe enough to be hospitalized, that person then isolated at home. 

"Now we can say we actually have something that can decrease your risk of hospitalization and improve your chances of survival if you have features that place you at risk for progressing on to more advanced forms of COVID-19," said Dr. Robert Gottlieb with the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute. 

Dr. Gottlieb said the key for the antibodies to be most effective is to get them early on. 

"We've shown that if we give the antibodies early to patients at risk of progression, we can decrease the risk of hospitalization or worse by somewhere between 70% to even 87%," he said.

This comes as hospitals and ICUs are facing another surge, with low amounts of staffed ICU beds available for the Austin region. 

Gottlieb said this treatment can not only help people get better faster but also help hospitals out too.

"Quite frankly, you could save two lives. You could save your own life so that you don't require the hospitalization, and you can save a life that needs that hospital bed that you would have otherwise taken up, because hospital beds right now are precious," Dr. Gottlieb said.

Dr. Gottlieb said, as of now, patients get the antibody treatment through an IV. However, researchers are testing out using shots instead, with the hope of making the antibodies more widely available. 

"Imagine one day, if you're in a clinic ... and you get your swab and it turns out positive, then maybe you could actually then, if you qualify, receive a subcutaneous injection of the neutralizing monoclonals," said Dr. Gottlieb. "Because that time gap means you're going to get maximal efficacy because you've compressed the time from testing to dose as much as possible."

Dr. Gottlieb said the treatments aren't available for everyone just yet. He said to talk with a health care provider to find out if you qualify.

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