Lines of Defense: Dr. Dan Edney gives update on COVID-19 treatments, monoclonal antibodies available in Vicksburg
Published 9:53 am Friday, August 20, 2021
COVID-19 is unpredictable at times — while some may have mild cases, others will become severely ill and possibly die.
Doctors say vaccinations are the number one defense against COVID-19, but there are also several effective treatments available for those with coronavirus.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is one treatment available for those with COVID-19 who are at high risk due to age or illnesses, or those who are having moderate to severe cases, Mississippi Department of Health Chief Medical Officer and local physician Dr. Dan Edney said.
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“Monoclonal antibody therapy is very safe and effective and it reduces hospitalizations by up to 80 percent,” Edney said.
However, it must be administered during the early phase of the illness.
“If anyone is developing symptoms of sinus issues, sore throat, cough, fatigue and/or fever, they should contact their physician or provider and be tested ASAP and be considered for monoclonal therapy,” Edney said.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is used only for patients who have not been hospitalized because it is not effective when the disease is severe.
Regeneron is the company brand that makes the current monoclonal antibodies being used against the Delta variant, Edney said, and Regen-COV is the brand name of the two monoclonals in the infusion. Vicksburg has one of the 10 federally supported MSDH monoclonal dosing units in Mississippi at the Medical Associates building. No physician order is required, as it is under MSDH protocol and free.
Other treatments, such as Remdesivir and intravenous steroids, are available for hospitalized patients, Edney said, and vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are eligible for all available COVID-19 treatments, Edney said, including the Monoclonals.
Like the COVID vaccine, these treatments other than Remdesivir are FDA approved through an Emergency Use Authorization.
“To receive EUA approval, a drug or treatment must demonstrate safety and efficacy and can receive expedited approval during a time of emergency,” Edney said.
No shortcuts are taken in approving the drug, he said. The same trials are required. Timelines are just changed, because red tape is removed to expedite clinical results.
“EUA approval is a very big deal and satisfied physicians enough that 97 percent of physicians in the U.S. have taken the vaccine,” Edney said.
Full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon, which Edney said will mean all the clinical information has been accumulated and red tape paperwork is completed.
“And no red flags have been found,” Edney said of the COVID vaccine.
He also said while there is talk of Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin as treatments against COVID, unfortunately, while they have been thoroughly studied, they have proven not to be effective.
“We wanted and needed them to work and need other therapies which are in development to work,” Edney said.
In fact, Edney said, “These two drugs not only don’t work, but many who use them have a false sense of security that they are being protected from COVID.”
However, what does work, he said, are vaccinations, masks, responsible behavior so as not to assume unnecessary risk and distancing as possible.
“We now have 51 percent of all Americans fully vaccinated. Vaccination is your best-proven chance of surviving this epidemic,” Edney said.
If diagnosed with COVID-19 via testing, Edney said, it is not acceptable for health care providers to simply tell someone they are COVID positive.
“They must be educated (and the majority are) to also treat or refer quickly patients using the current standard of care,” he said.