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State health leaders push monoclonals as preventative treatment for high-risk individuals

Monoclonal Antibody Infusion (file photo)
Monoclonal Antibody Infusion (file photo)(Phoebe)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Days after issuing emergency use authorization permitting the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for certain individuals with COVID-19, state health leaders are now saying the treatment can be used to prevent it.

Medical officials offered guidance for the treatment during Friday’s Mississippi State Medical Association question and answer session.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said anyone who has been exposed to the virus and is at risk of developing a severe case qualifies for prophylactic treatment.

“One of the things we pushed early on with this was nursing home folks – long-term care settings,” he said. “We know they’re especially vulnerable. In an outbreak setting, we strongly encourage people to consider using the monoclonals for that.

“Pregnant women also certainly will benefit from it. Pregnant women have a lot of trouble, and it’s also dangerous for the baby,” she said.

When asked, he said a perfect example of a person who should use the preventative would be a pregnant mother who has a child or another family member who brings the virus home.

“We have seen situations where they have taken COVID back to the house and they haven’t made it,” he said. “(There are) a lot of cases in kids now and once it gets into the household, it doesn’t stay with the index case.”

Dobbs was referring to the index case as the first person in a household or a family who contracts the virus.

He said the Mississippi State Department of Health was communicating the guidance to obstetricians and was considering putting together Health Alert Network (HAN) alert.

State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said MSDH had already sent out initial guidance, saying that monoclonals should be used as a preventative treatment for adults and children 12 years of age and older who have been exposed to COVID and are “at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, who are not fully vaccinated or (who are) not expected to mount an adequate immune response to a complete series of... vaccines they previously had.”

Last week, the MSDH issued emergency use authorization permitting the use of the antibody treatment for certain individuals who came down with the virus.

Criteria to receive the treatment include those who are 65 or older, obese, pregnant, living with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or immunosuppressive diseases, sickle cell disease, and other conditions.

Currently, monoclonals are being offered at 180 sites across the state.

The news comes even as the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the state and as the state reaches several grim milestones, including the largest single-daily death total of 111 and as it surpasses more than 8,200 total deaths.

However, there are some bright spots. Byers said earlier this week that numbers were beginning to stabilize and that more people are again getting vaccinated.

“We administered 80,000 doses last week. (I believe we will) surpass it this week,” he said. “That’s encouraging. That’s what’s going to help us out of this in the long run.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Daniel Edney, meanwhile, said having monoclonal antibodies in their arsenals has given many physicians a new sense of hope.

Said Edney, “The feedback from primary care (physicians is that) this is the first time they felt they were fighting back.”

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