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Got COVID-19? Mobile unit that administers monoclonal antibodies in Durango may help

Treatments said to lower risk of hospitalization among those who test positive
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has deployed a mobile unit to La Plata County to administer monoclonal antibody treatment to people who have tested positive for COVID-19. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has deployed a mobile unit for a two-week period in La Plata County to administer monoclonal antibody treatment for people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The mobile unit will be at La Plata County Fairgrounds next to the community testing center at 2500 Main Ave. in Durango.

“I think it will be really positive having this by the community testing center,” said Chandler Griffin, spokesman for San Juan Basin Public Health. “We’ll be able to hand out information to people who are leaving the community testing site to let them know that this mobile unit is available to them if they have a positive test.”

The treatment is given intravenously and takes about an hour. It’s designed to boost the immune response of someone who has received a positive COVID-19 test and is experiencing symptoms, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to be effective at preventing hospitalizations among individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are considered high-risk for severe illness.

“Helping increase access to monoclonal antibody treatments for high-risk individuals is a top priority for the state of Colorado and San Juan Basin Public Health,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH in a news release. “We hope that eligible individuals will take advantage of the mobile unit providing these treatments, which have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations.”

Antibodies are proteins that exist in the immune system. They recognize and defend against harmful viruses and bacteria. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a laboratory and designed to target a specific bacteria or virus, in this case SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.

Treatments will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Dec. 11.

“SJBPH is grateful for the state’s leadership and collaboration for ongoing disease containment and support for our health care partners,” Jollon said. “Expanding access to effective treatments adds to the collaborative work between state and local public health with vaccine, testing, contact tracing and increasing the utilization of other proven precautions.”

Those who have tested positive for COVID-19, and have started experiencing symptoms in the last 10 days are eligible for the treatment. The mobile unit can help people who aren’t yet hospitalized from COVID-19, but are at risk of being very sick from the virus.

People 12 and older are eligible to receive monoclonal antibody treatment.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are also available from health care providers in the region. People should first consult with their physician for a referral if seeking monoclonal antibody treatment from a local hospital.

“The mobile units are intended to supplement monoclonal treatments that are already happening at local health care facilities and hospitals,” Griffin said.

Eligible individuals can sign up to receive the treatment through CDPHE’s mobile unit without a referral. However, part of the referral process does require a screening to determine eligibility.

SJBPH said it will advocate with the state to bring CDPHE’s mobile unit back to La Plata County in the future, as well as try to expand access to Archuleta County.

Griffin said the state has a good supply of monoclonal antibody treatments, but if other states begin to see similar spikes to what Colorado is experiencing, there could be some scarcity.

“For now, these treatments are available, and Colorado does have a good supply of them, and we’re glad to have the mobile unit in Durango as an additional option for the community,” he said.

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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