A Waco clinic performed 60 free monoclonal antibody infusions by Friday, after getting up and running this week for the purpose.
The clinic is continuing to schedule patients based on its supply of infusions, and there was no waitlist for scheduling as of Friday, said Wes Rapaport, spokesperson for the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The clinic, set up at Texas State Technical College in a partnership between the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest and the Texas Division of Emergency Management, had its first full day of operation Wednesday, though it provided some service Monday and Tuesday, Rapaport said.
Primary care physicians are able to refer COVID-19 patients, and the vendor running the clinic, Gothams, also has doctors able to assess people who do not have a primary care doctor. Treatment is by appointment only, and it is free.
Hillcrest in recent weeks has seen days when it treated as many as 40 people with monoclonal antibodies, though that number has been lower, along with the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, Hillcrest Chief Medial officer Dr. Umad Ahmad said earlier this week when the state-sponsored clinic was opening.
The treatment has helped keep a “significant” number of patients out of inpatient care, Ahmad said.
As of Friday, Waco hospitals were treating 123 COVID-19 patients, according to the local health district. The local seven-day average for current hospitalizations stood at more than 201 as of Sept. 19, compared to a high from previous surges at almost 165 on Jan. 16.
The health district on Friday also reported four more deaths of McLennan County residents caused by COVID-19, bringing the local death toll to 652.
The county saw another 80 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and the active case count stood at 686.
The monoclonal antibody treatment, produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, can only be given to patients at higher risk of more serious outcomes who have tested positive for COVID-19 and can receive an infusion within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. Patients who have been hospitalized or received supplemental oxygen for COVID-19 treatment are not eligible.
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens, including the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
COVID-19 patients can contact the infusion center at 254-867-2005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.