Monoclonal antibody infusion therapy used to combat COVID-19 infections

Healthbeat

JERMYN, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — While much attention is paid to preventing the spread of COVID-19, providing infected patients with the best possible treatment is equally important.

One of those treatments uses what are called monoclonal antibodies.

The treatment called Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Therapy uses those molecules to help your body fight off the COVID infection. A Lackawanna County patient and her medical provider welcomed Eyewitness News for her treatment session.

The Wright Center for Community Health Mid Valley Nurse Kari Machelli administers monoclonal antibody infusion therapy. The healthcare provider has treated some 800 COVID-positive patients with it to date.

Erin Naro, 51, of Madison Township was diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID on December 19th. Just two days after developing mild symptoms. She didn’t expect her doctor to recommend this treatment.

“Yeah, because I hadn’t heard about it,” said Erin Naro, a monoclonal ntibody therapy patient.

Not everyone is eligible for the lab-manufactured antibody infusion designed to block novel coronavirus from attaching to the body’s cells.

“I feel privileged to be able to get it. You know, I feel fortunate that I’m not in the situation a lot of people that have gotten COVID have found themselves in,” stated Naro.

As someone who once smoked for 30 years and still deals with asthma and high blood pressure, Naro qualifies for the treatment. She’s considered high risk for being in a state of severe COVID illness.

“Thank God I’m not, you know. I’m very thankful,” stated Naro.

“We know that patients who do get antibody therapy, recover quickly and their chances of hospitalizations and deaths are reduced significantly,” explained Jignesh Sheth, MD. Chief Medical Officer at The Wright Center for Community Health.

Tim O’Toole, 74, of Scranton received monoclonal antibody infusion therapy after getting a breakthrough case of COVID in November.

“I was sick for maybe five days and then the rest of it was just a little bit of head cold and not much…” Hiller asks, “Do you have any lingering effects?” O’Toole says, “Not now. Not now. I’m pretty good,” stated Tim O’Toole, a monoclonal antibody therapy patient.

Naro hopes for a similar recovery with the help of monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.

“It’s not going to hurt, you know, so maybe it will help,” said Naro.

Monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of symptoms. The Wright Center for Community Health plans to expand the therapy to its Scranton location by mid-January.

Combined with its mid-valley facility, it will then be able to treat about 25 patients a day.

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