Coronavirus Antibody Treatment Can Cut Risk Of Hospitalization And Death By Nearly 70 Percent

KDKA's Dr. Maria Simbra has more on the treatment and its impact.

Video Transcript

- UPMC says that a COVID-19 antibody treatment, if given early enough after infection can cut the risk of hospitalization and death by nearly 70%. It could keep people from ending up in the ICU and save lives. Dr. Maria Simbra explains how it works and takes a look at the new data.

MARIA SIMBRA: Sharae Hopkins had a stuffy nose and a little cough.

SHARAE HOPKINS: I kept telling everyone, oh, it's not COVID, it's my sinuses.

MARIA SIMBRA: But her symptoms persisted.

SHARAE HOPKINS: My cough got worse. The pain in my muscles and my joints-- it just-- it put me down. I couldn't get up.

MARIA SIMBRA: She had COVID. But after getting her results, she was nervous. She didn't know what to do. She called a 24-hour doctor line.

SHARAE HOPKINS: And then she mentioned the antibody treatment. And the way that I was feeling, I was like, I'm willing to try anything.

MARIA SIMBRA: Sharae was one of 1,000 people at UPMC to be treated with monoclonal antibodies. These are copies of antibodies, or immune system proteins that seek out the virus. They work best within the first four days of illness.

- If you qualify for this treatment, our data shows that it cuts the risk of hospitalization or death in our patients by 70%.

MARIA SIMBRA: Monoclonal antibodies are available under emergency use authorization. Because of that, there are strict criteria for who is eligible-- people over 65, people 55 and up with certain medical conditions, and adolescents with certain medical conditions.

SHARAE HOPKINS: Because I carry weight, along with I'm a diabetic, I'm insulin dependent-- [INAUDIBLE] factors they felt that I would be a good candidate for the treatment.

MARIA SIMBRA: UPMC offers the treatment at multiple locations including emergency departments. It takes an hour to get the IV and an hour and a half afterwards to monitor for side effects, such as low blood pressure.

SHARAE HOPKINS: Like a little warming sensation in the very beginning. And then after that, it kind of-- just-- it just felt like I was getting a normal saline IV.

DONALD YEALY: Don't let cost be a barrier to you. The medication is free.

MARIA SIMBRA: Sharae feels lucky.

SHARAE HOPKINS: I seem like I'm the only one who got it. I don't know anyone else who's received the antibody treatments.

MARIA SIMBRA: She felt well enough to walk her dogs two days later. I'm Dr. Maria Simbra, KDKA news.