Clinics can now use antibody treatment to help with COVID exposures, infections

CHARLOTTE — Hospitals are again feeling the strain of COVID-19 and now smaller facilities are starting to offer a unique way to treat patients with infections that could lead to severe illness.

Initially, only hospitals could offer monoclonal antibody treatment, but the FDA recently issued an emergency use authorization, allowing clinics like StarMed to provide those antibodies.

For months, we’ve seen cars drive through StarMed’s Charlotte clinic for testing and vaccines, but with stagnant vaccination rates and climbing COVID cases, the clinic now has another way to tackle the virus.

StarMed’s CEO, Mike Estramonte, explained to Channel 9 how the IV treatment works.

“It basically gives you antibodies that are made in the laboratory, and it’s extremely effective,” he said.

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Estramonte said the antibodies attach to the coronavirus when it enters the body and prevents it from invading new cells and replicating. The treatment is recommended for anyone who tests positive for COVID and is also at high-risk of developing serious symptoms.

That includes people who are only partially vaccinated or who have an underlying health condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes.

But Estramonte said the vaccine is still the best tool to prevent people from getting seriously ill with COVID.

“This is not a substitution for vaccines, and that’s a significant distinction,” he said.

If you get the virus, Estramonte said the antibody treatment could help reduce your symptoms enough to keep you from going to the hospital. That gives some people hope, like Vanessa Delgado, who is still reluctant to get the shot.

“It reduces the symptoms, so I’d rather do that than be stuck at the hospital,” she said.

StarMed is prepared to treat about 100 people with their recent shipment, and they’ll begin administering the antibody treatments on Thursday. StarMed doctors will determine a patient’s eligibility.

To schedule a virtual appointment, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: StarMed only NC clinic selected to help with Moderna’s vaccine trial for kids)