Montgomery Co. partners with state to open monoclonal antibody infusion center

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough announced the county is partnering with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open the region's first infusion center for monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 patients. 

According to his post on Facebook, it will be in The Woodlands near all of the hospitals and the center is expected to open Monday. 

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On Friday, Governor Greg Abbott announced the expansion of infusion centers equipped with Regeneron's monoclonal antibodies. 

Last month, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the treatment. It is an intravenous infusion and requires a referral from a doctor.

Dr. James McDeavitt, Executive Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs with Baylor College of Medicine, explains how monoclonal antibodies work.

"Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies that are produced in the laboratory that are specific for a human antigen, in this case for the spike protein of the coronavirus," McDeavitt said.

He adds while Regeneron remains an effective treatment against the delta variant, laboratory findings show changes.

"Regeneron is the antibody. The COVID spike protein is the antigen, and it's like a lock and a key. That antibody key needs to fit exactly into the lock and when that occurs that's what activates your immune system. If this key, the antigen, the spike protein, changes its configuration a little bit, it will no longer fit into the lock. We're starting to see a little bit of that effect with delta, but, so for, the monoclonal antibodies are still effective in the treatment," McDeavitt explained.

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He adds the treatment is most effective for people who are symptomatic with mild to moderate disease. It is not effective for people who are hospitalized with severe illness.

McDeavitt welcomes more infusion centers as a way to prevent hospitalizations as hospitals continue to face a shortage of staff and beds and increase in patients.

"Every single hospital bed that we can save at this point is critically important," he emphasized.

However, he says it is only part of the answer to help with the current surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

"This sort of a horse is out of the barn answer. It's an effort to try to mitigate the hospital demand and protect the hospitals, but it's a pretty late intervention. What is far more important is the safe behaviors -- not going to work when you're sick, not infecting others, and getting vaccinated," he stressed.