AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Since December 2020, monoclonal antibody treatments of some kind have been available to certain eligible populations within the Amarillo community, whether through a clinic sponsored by the city of Amarillo’s public health department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) or through the Amarillo hospitals.
According to a recent study, Regeneron, one of those monoclonal antibody treatments, has been shown to prevent individuals from contracting COVID-19 by 81.6% eight months after receiving the injection. None of the individuals who participated in the study who received the treatment were hospitalized with COVID-19 during the eight-month trial, according to reports by MyHighPlains.com.
Thousands of individuals in the Amarillo community have received this treatment, including almost 600 infusions at the city’s Regeneron clinic in October. Michael Lamanteer, the chief medical officer at the BSA Health System, and Brian Weis, the chief medical officer at the Northwest Texas Healthcare System, have both spoken at length regarding the effectiveness of the treatment during the city’s COVID-19 news conferences.
“It’s keeping them out of the hospital. We’ve administered about 2,000 doses, 2,000 unique patients with monoclonal antibody since the outset of the pandemic,” Lamanteer said in late October. “…I think it’s been a very successful, well-tolerated therapy where we’re not seeing adverse reactions.”
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, those who are eligible for this treatment include individuals:
- at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and
- not fully vaccinated or who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to complete SARS-CoV-2 vaccination (for example, people with immunocompromising conditions, including those taking immunosuppressive medications), and
- have been exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 consistent with close contact criteria per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or
- who are at high risk of exposure to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2 because of occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in other individuals in the same institutional setting (for example, nursing homes or prisons)
Casie Stoughton, the city of Amarillo’s public health director, said the treatment gives individuals passive protection, something that gives individuals protection against COVID “for quite some time.”
“(Regeneron gives you) kind of a head start on the antibodies that are needed to protect you against COVID or help fight COVID if you already have it, to help prevent you from moving to severe disease, hospitalization, even help prevent death from COVID,” Stoughton said.
Since the TDEM opened its infusion clinic in Amarillo in late September, bringing back the opportunity for Texas Panhandle residents to receive a monoclonal antibody infusion through the city, Stoughton said demand has been higher than the previous clinic. Officials have reported seeing 20 to 60 patients a day at this new clinic.
During Wednesday’s COVID-19 news conference, Stoughton said the city has seen approximately 1,400 patients in the infusion clinic since it opened in late September.
Thorugh the clinic, Stoughton said officials have seen a wide range of individuals, both young and old as well as those with chronic health conditions and those who do not have chronic health conditions. Officials have seen individuals who have been vaccinated as well as those who have not been vaccinated, even though Stoughton stressed that the majority who have received the Regeneron treatment have not been vaccinated.
“There are breakthrough cases and then exposure, so people who may be exposed but are in that higher risk category (who) want to take advantage of the Regeneron just… for all the protection they can get,” she said regarding the patients who have been seen that have been vaccinated. “They don’t want COVID.”
Overall, Stoughton believes the Regeneron treatment is an excellent option for individuals who want to avoid severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
“Our whole goal is to keep people well, keep people from transmitting disease to others,” she said. “So, the monoclonal antibodies, I think, do a great job. It’s a short-term solution. Vaccines certainly would provide a longer-term solution and would be protection, more of an active protection.”
Todd Bell, the city of Amarillo’s public health authority, said in September that he believes the infusions have helped Amarillo’s hospital capacity, even as cases continued to rise with the Delta Variant of COVID-19 spreading throughout the community.
“The infusions that have already been given over the past two months, have really been the difference, I think in preventing this from overwhelming the hospital system,” Bell said. “If those patients who have received those infusions had ended up in the hospital, I think that might have pushed us over the edge.”
Stoughton stressed that the city’s clinic is a regional clinic, for all the communities within the Texas Panhandle. For more information about the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment, visit the city of Amarillo’s public health department website at https://www.amarillo.gov/departments/community-services/public-health or call the department at 806-378-6300.