EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — As new cases of COVID-19 spikes upwards, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Breaks down treatment options for those severely infected with the virus.
But there is a limited supply of these antiviral drugs.
“These treatments do work,” said Dr. Pablo Tebas, Infectious Disease Specialist, University of Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s top medical professionals answered questions and concerns about COVID-19 and treatment options over Facebook live.
Monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals are two treatments available across the commonwealth.
“Either one of them. Either one of the classes needs to be given as early as possible,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, Physician General.
The way the treatments work is by binding to the virus and preventing infection of the cell.
Unfortunately, there is a short supply, requiring doctors to prioritize who receives treatment.
“The unvaccinated people with high risk, and immunosuppressed,” said Dr. Tebas.
Age is also a key determining factor. Pennsylvania’s Physician General, Dr. Denise Johnson reminds Pennsylvanians that these treatments are not meant to be used as the first line of defense.
“Getting your recommended vaccine and booster will protect you against severe illness and really hospitalization and death from COVID,” said Dr. Johnson.
But if it comes down to treatment, how do you determine which one is best for you?
“Whatever is available for you, if it’s a monoclonal infusion, great. “If it’s an oral agent, great. I think right now what you have access to is what you need to take,” explained Dr. Ryan Bariola, MD, Infectious Diseases, University of Pittsburgh.
These treatments have been purchased by the federal government, making them free to eligible patients.
Though some insurers will charge an administration fee.
“But don’t let that be a deterrent, if you are eligible for these products they really can keep you from getting severely ill with COVID,” Dr. Johnson said.