Leon County is now one of 21 counties in Florida offering a free monoclonal antibody therapy treatment, called Sotrovimab.
The treatment is aimed for anyone that is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive or have had been in direct exposure in the last 10 days. The treatment can also be used in adults and children over the age of 12 with a body mass higher than 88 lbs.
The Food and Drug Administration described the treatment as “laboratory-made proteins” that are designed to mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off “harmful antigens”, such as COVID-19 in a news release.
REGEN-COV, the medicine used in the treatment, has not been approved by the FDA. However, it has been granted emergency use authorization, which allows the use of the drug prior to approval.
According to FloridaHealth.gov, the treatment can prevent severe illness among high-risk individuals and showed a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations and death in clinical trials.
The Leon County Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Center is located at 1500 Apalachee Parkway at the vacant Sears department store, and is serving the public seven days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The treatment center is a collaborative effort between the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Jill McElwee, Incident Commander at the Monoclonal Treatment Center, gave us a tour of the operation site and provided more details of the treatment process.
“We administer it in one of two ways. Most folks prefer the injections and it’s just a very tiny needle… subcutaneous injection in four sides… or we can do an IV infusion. The IV infusions take up to 20 and 45 minutes…all depending on the patient’s size and IV site,” said McElwee.
“After the treatment the patient has to wait for an hour…. we monitor them for any adverse reaction to the medication,” McElwee added.
Monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for the vaccine, only a method to treat harmful symptoms.
However there is a caveat to be aware of; once you receive the treatment, you are not eligible for a vaccine for 90 days.
McElwee also notes if you recently received a vaccine and get sick within two weeks after being vaccinated, you may also be ineligible for the antibody treatment “counteract”
The treatment is not authorized for use in patients who are being hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, and could result in “worse clinical outcomes” when administered to these patients, according to the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ official website.
McElwee, Incident Commander at the local treatment center encourages everyone who is showing symptoms or tested positive to come and be treated.
“We have a maximum of 320 patients a day… we’ve only been open for one week and the most we had so far is 140, so we do have a lot of openings,” McElwee said.
Appointments and walk-ins are available. To schedule an appointment, visit https://www.patientportalfl.com.