(ABC4) – If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase monoclonal antibody therapy (yes, that’s a mouthful), those days are numbered.

This week, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced the opening of a brand new infusion center at Intermountain Healthcare’s Murray Hospital, which will be able to treat up to 50 eligible people each day.

The new facility, which will exclusively provide treatment to high-risk patients, has been developed from a new one to combat an increase in COVID-19 cases that are straining Utah’s healthcare system, have officials explained at the introductory press conference Thursday.

“Hospital systems, at least along the Wasatch front, were hampering their ability to infuse, and they identified more people who would benefit from it than they could actually afford,” said UDOH deputy director. , Dr. Michelle Hofmann.

But what exactly is monoclonal antibody therapy, who is it for, and what effect can it have against COVID-19?

Here is an overview of some frequently asked questions that many may have about the treatment:

What is that?

Treatment with monoclonal antibodies is given by intravenous or IV infusion. The process takes about 2-3 hours, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Here’s the kicker though, to receive the treatment, which is an infusion of lab-created antibodies that can be used to fight COVID-19, you must already test positive for the virus.

There is a documented history of successful treatment, including when former President Donald Trump fell with COVID in October 2020. He received an antibody called Regeneron while receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Other antibody-based drugs that have been recommended for use in Utah include sotrovimab, bamlanivimab, and etesevimab.

However, many in the medical community, as well as political voices such as Utah Governor Spencer Cox, have said the treatment is not an alternative to the vaccine. It essentially helps a person who is sick with COVID recover faster and can reduce the possibility of long-term side effects.

Who can get it?

To determine who is eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment at this time, a set of criteria has been listed on the state’s coronavirus response website.

The qualifications that must be met are as follows:

  • The patient must be at least 16 years old
  • Have tested positive no more than 7 days after the onset of symptoms
  • No need for new or increased oxygen again
  • Should not be admitted to a hospital for COVID or complications related to COVID
  • Patients who meet the above conditions and who are pregnant are eligible for treatment.
  • Those who are not pregnant and unvaccinated should have a risk score greater than 4.5
  • Those who are not pregnant and vaccinated must have a risk score greater than 8 or be severely immunocompromised

The risk score can be calculated online and is based on a number of factors including gender, age, ethnicity, pre-existing conditions, and symptoms.

Young people aged 12 to 15 may be considered eligible but test positive no more than a week after symptom onset, and have either some kind of B-cell immunodeficiency or morbid obesity with a higher BMI. to 35.

What are the costs?

While the federal government distributes treatment for free at this time, some treatment centers may have costs that may or may not be covered by insurance.

More information on insurance coverage can be found here.

Where can I receive it?

In addition to the new facility at Intermountain Healthcare Hospital in Murray, there are many other locations across the state providing treatment.

Here is a list provided by the state’s webpage on the subject:

  • Ashley Regional Medical Center – 435-790-2807
  • Beaver Valley Hospital – 435-438-7284
  • Blue Mountain Hospital – 435-678-4640
  • Castleview Hospital – Price – 435-636-4840 / 435-650-4895
  • Central Valley Medical Center – 435-623-3108
  • Gunnison Valley Hospital – Gunnison – 435-528-2118
  • Intermountain Healthcare – Statewide
  • Kane County Hospital – Kanab – 435-644-4178
  • Moab Regional Hospital – 435-719-3500
  • Ogden Regional Medical Center – 801-479-2470
  • Uintah Basin Medical Center – Roosevelt – 435-247-4298
  • Utah University of Health – SLC – 801-213-2130
  • Davis Hospital and Medical Center – Layton – (Please contact your primary care physician to make an appointment)
  • Jordan Valley Medical Center – West Jordan – (Please contact your primary care physician to make an appointment)
  • Mountain Point Medical Center – Lehi – (Please contact your primary care physician to make an appointment)
  • Salt Lake Regional Medical Center – Salt Lake City – (Please contact your primary care physician to make an appointment)

To shorten it…

Basically, monoclonal antibody therapy is a treatment that could potentially help someone with COVID-19 feel better faster. If you think you may need treatment, it is important to contact the appropriate medical officials as soon as possible to stay within the window of onset of symptoms.

In addition, you must be considered high risk on a risk factor scale to receive treatment.

It is not seen as a replacement for getting vaccinated, which is still encouraged and in some cases required by many leaders. However, it can help a person who tests positive feel better, potentially avoiding the need for hospitalization.

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion