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Monoclonal antibody treatment saving lives

Infected Marylanders see reduced symptoms of the virus
Posted at 6:05 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 18:05:45-04

BALTIMORE — Thousands of patients have received a life-saving infusion through a monoclonal antibody treatment, and 67-year-old Constance Taylor got hers from doctors right here in Baltimore.

“The treatment was easy,” Taylor told us. “I feel kind of silly, because it was so easy I didn’t realize they had started the treatment and I kept waiting. ‘When’s the nurse coming back?’ and she came back in, and I said, ‘Well, when are you going to start?’ and she said, ‘You’re done’, and I want, ‘Oh!’” (laughter)

Dr. Sophia Purekal serves as the medical director at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital’s COVID Infusion Center at South Greene and Lombard Streets.

“Monoclonal antibodies provide a protein that is similar to what the body makes to fight infection,” said Purekal. “These medications were made in laboratories and modelled after ones that were made by people who survived COVID, and these ones were shown to be particularly effective at binding to the COVID virus and preventing it from entering human cells and preventing it from growing.”

At-risk patients can get referred to the infusion center for treatment by their doctors or by using the field hospital’s tele-health services at no out-of-pocket costs to them.

The treatment takes about half an hour, plus an hour more for observation on an outpatient basis.

The same day she received the treatment, Taylor could tell it was already working.

“I said to my husband, ‘I think it’s working’. I said, ‘I think it’s working.’ It was like midnight. I said, ‘I think it’s working.’ He goes, ‘How do you know it’s working?’ I said, ‘I can feel a change in my body.’ He said, ‘You’re being silly.’ But when I coughed, the phlegm came up and I coughed less, and then over a period of I guess five to six days, I stopped coughing altogether.”

The field hospital has now administered the treatment to more than 3,000 patients, and of the 14,000 who have received it in Maryland, it’s estimated it has helped prevent 700 hospitalizations and 300 deaths.