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Wear The Gown: Using monoclonal antibodies to fight coronavirus

Physicians say the use of these therapeutics has been overlooked.

SAN ANTONIO — As the latest coronavirus pandemic surge rages on, the goal for many physicians is to keep patients out of the hospital to lower their risk of death. 

When therapeutics like Bamlanivimab, known as a monoclonal antibody, started to be used to treat coronavirus the goal was to treat mostly patients already in the hospital. But, with vaccine news overshadowing the use of these drugs, physicians say they're being extremely under-utlized.

"The monoclonal antibodies are actually clones of one single white blood cell that's why they are monoclonal, and they are proteins, man-made proteins, to augment or supplement your body his own immune system that is just not producing enough of the antibodies to fight off the disease," said Elliot Mandell, a Senior Vice-President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for University Health says when the pandemic began, and even now, the goal was to flatten the curve. "And the reason for that was so there wouldn't be spikes so high that the healthcare system was overrun and unable to take care of patients. When this disease first began we didn’t have anything for prophylaxis and we were trying to discover what would be the best treatment."

Right now, there is a three pronged attack against COVID. The preventative component of the vaccines, treatment of mild to moderate symptoms with monoclonal antibodies, and the treatment of severe patients with theraputics. But the middle component wasn't being used enough so University Health took action. 

"We worked with STRAC, the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to look at how we could address this more from a regional perspective," Mandell told us.

The problem was the allocation of the drugs and little coordination between healthcare systems. 

"University Health volunteered to step up and we aggregated all of the drugs in the city so the other healthcare systems send their allocations to us," Mandell added.

From there, they administer the drugs at the Freeman Coliseum. 

"The Freeman Coliseum, I think they have an 80 bed type set up in the Freeman Coliseum, and that’s where we are doing these infusions," Mandell said.

For more information about family health, call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.