RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina has reported an increase in its use of COVID-19 treatment therapies.
For the week of June 23, monoclonal antibody treatment was administered 100 times. The number of treatments shot up to 1,874 for the week of Aug. 11, NCDHHS said.
The treatments are a tool to keep people out of the hospital as the state continues to see increases in cases and hospitalizations.
A photo showing a woman lying on the ground, moaning in pain while waiting to get her monoclonal antibody treatment in Florida circulated online this week.
Doctors want to avoid this in North Carolina but are seeing more people coming in for treatment.
“We designed antibodies that we can infuse into someone’s blood, and instantaneously there are now antibodies.”
While North Carolina infusion centers don’t have long lines like those in Florida, it’s a warning to the unvaccinated.
Wohl said health care workers are already tasked with COVID-19 units, vaccinations, testing, and other non-COVID-19-related tasks.
“There’s only so many people who work in health care, and now we want them to do antibody infusions, so it’s really hard. I do worry that we have a bigger demand than we have capacity,” Wohl said.
Dr. Thomas Holland is an associate professor of medicine at Duke. He spoke to CBS 17 from Duke Health’s COVID-19 unit.
“Its scary to look at. That’s what were trying to avoid. The other way to get antibodies into your system is to get vaccinated,” he said.
Holland knows the current infusion therapy isn’t ideal but its the only tool.
“Unfortunately, although a lot of things have been tried, we don’t yet have medication approved for treatment of early COVID that’s a pill,” Holland said.
The infusion treatment has its challenges. Patients need to get infusions at specific treatment centers, some of which are referral only. The infusion therapy takes 30 to 60 minutes. The FDA said COVID-19 positive patients need to get there within 10 days of symptoms.
“The day or two after you’re diagnosed, you got to make a call. Especially, if you’ve had symptoms for less than five days, that’s who we want to see,” Wohl said.
All this trouble is largely avoided through vaccination. Even in rare, breakthrough cases, the vaccines largely keep people out of the hospital.
“There are people who are not willing to get vaccinated because the vaccines are not FDA approved, but they’re willing to take a monoclonal antibody once they’re sick even though that’s not approved.”
Wohl said in the future, people could be living with this virus like they do with the flu.
“We could live with COVID-19 but we need people to get vaccinated and we need good treatment. Both of those things together.”