Monoclonal antibody treatment now available in East Tennessee primary care offices


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There is a treatment for COVID-19 that has been around since November of 2020 according to Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. Its called monoclonal antibody treatment.

Now, it’s becoming more readily available in East Tennessee. The treatment has been used in hospitals for patients who have become critically ill with COVID-19 and who are considered ‘high risk.’

Now, primary care groups are able to give the treatment to high-risk patients as soon as they test positive for the virus.

One in five of the people we test are now positive with COVID, so unfortunately we’re seeing a lot of cases,” said Summit Medical Group Executive Medical Director Dr. Eric Penniman. “In East Tennessee, we’re seeing anywhere from 40 to 50 positive cases a day.”

As cases increase the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients at “high risk [of] progression to severe disease.”

“It has just became available for primary care,” Dr. Penniman explained. “We’ve had monoclonal antibody treatment for the very high-risk patience since about December, but they were only happening in the hospital infusion places for our older patients and those with higher risk.”

Summit Medical Group is now one of the primary care groups jumping on board with the new treatments, hoping to decrease the number of people who get sick with COVID and have to go to the hospital.

“The majority of patients in Tennessee who are found to have COVID are eligible to receive the monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Penniman said. “Research shows that the actual symptoms are reduced by about 300 percent.”

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said that they are starting to distribute the treatment to multiple primary care facilities across Tennessee.

“In a pharmaceutical laboratory, you can manufacture antibodies that will fight COVID infection just like your own body would,” she stated. “This is a medication, some people call it a therapeutic, that you can take to prevent the progression of your disease.”

The treatment can be given through an IV or a series of shots.

“There are plenty of people who are positive with COVID, that honestly didn’t know that this was even an opportunity,” said Dr. Penniman.

Doctors continue to say the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is by getting the vaccine, however, this new treatment is a turning point in helping to fight off the virus for those who test positive.

Summit Medical Group is giving the treatments at about 50 of their sites including their express clinics for those who are not patients or members of the Summit Medical Group. There is a zero out-of-pocket expense for those who have Medicare.

The Department of Health has a list of medical facilities that offer monoclonal antibody treatment, and you can find that list here.

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