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COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibodies Treatment Now Available At Kanawha-Charleston Health Department

The Kanawha Charleston Health Department will now directly administer a life-saving treatment for COVID-19.

Health officials say administering monoclonal antibodies is one way to lessen the strain on nearby hospitals.

“We know that we need to have this to try to keep people out of hospitals,” said the health department’s interim director Dr. Sherri Young at a press conference Thursday.

The health department tests and vaccinates residents, but Young said this is a “last ditch effort” to keep people safe.

The delta surge is peaking in West Virginia. COVID-19 cases, and related hospitalizations, are higher than ever before. This has put a strain on hospitals, which now see their beds and staffing almost maxed out.

Monoclonal antibodies are manufactured by the company Regeneron. Some hospitals in the state offer this treatment already. Mon Health based in Morgantown announced Thursday that its system will offer monoclonal antibody infusions.

The new treatments are most effective for those who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have other health issues. They are best used early on, before any acute illness develops.

At first, the health department will only be taking referrals from Charleston Area Medical Center. In the coming weeks, the department hopes to offer this service to any West Virginian with a doctor’s referral.

County and city officials were also at the press conference, once again encouraging vaccination. Thus far, 52 percent of eligible state residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources dashboard, which tracks COVID-19 data.

“This is not a substitute or an excuse not to get the vaccine,” said Kanawha Council Commissioner Kent Carper.

Copyright 2021 West Virginia Public Broadcasting