Gov. DeSantis highlights good news on COVID: Monoclonal antibody therapy works

By: - August 5, 2021 6:02 pm

Tampa General Hospital. Credit: DanTD via Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis, amid spiking COVID cases that have rendered Florida the most dangerous state in terms of coronavirus infections, traveled to Tampa General Hospital on Thursday to highlight what’s turned out to be an effective treatment in early cases.

Tampa General’s year-old Global Emerging Diseases Institute has been treating patients with monoclonal antibodies, which are copies of antibodies produced by patients whose immune systems have fought off infections.

Dr. Kami Kim, chief of infectious diseases at USF Morsani College of Medicine, said during a news conference that the facility has treated more than 1,600 patients with the therapy.

In a study of 200 patients at high risk because of compromised immune systems, and who had mild-to-moderate symptoms, the therapy prevented hospitalizations in 70 percent of the cases, she said.

The treatments also appeared to inhibit transmission of the coronavirus, she added. However, it’s important to administer the treatment within seven days of infection, Kim said.

Those results have been born out in similar studies at other medical centers, she said.

“This treatment is effective in resolving symptoms, decreasing viral shedding. And then, obviously, if you have less virus and your symptoms go away sooner, you’re much less likely to end up in an emergency room in the hospital or in an ICU,” Kim said.

DeSantis’ office organized the press conference as news broke that Florida reported 20,133 new cases overnight and 84 new deaths. They were by far the highest numbers for COVID illness and death among states and U.S. territories, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although their application to COVID is novel, the treatments are “well established” in treating patients with immune disorder and cancer, Kim said. “They are life-saving treatments that have been used for decades.”

Initial testing was limited to patients who were older or suffered conditions including obesity, heart disease, lung disease, and immunosuppression, she said.

“Now, what we’ve found with over six months’ of experience is that these treatments are very effective in pretty much everybody,” Kim continued. That would include vaccinated people who nevertheless develop serious symptoms.

“If you’re unlucky enough to get COVID, the monoclonal antibodies clearly work, and they’ll help an individual recover more quickly from COVID and also likely prevent them from being hospitalized.”

DeSantis reiterated the point about the treatment’s efficacy.

“They’ve been used in earnest pretty much all of 2021,” he said of the treatments.

“The results have been very, very positive. The key is, though, that you’ve got to get it in time. You gotta get it early enough in the infection for it to be able to neutralize the virus.”

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.