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DHEC director, governor encouraging using of monoclonal antibodies for COVID treatment

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:25 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster and DHEC Director Edward Simmer are encouraging the use of monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment.

State officials say the guidance comes following the rise of COVID-19 cases in the state and the ongoing threat of the Delta variant.

In a statement released on Friday, state government and health officials said they are encouraging residents to learn more about the use and availability of monoclonal antibodies which is a treatment proven to be effective in staving off serious illness from COVID-19.

According to state officials, the treatment is available at over 50 healthcare providers across the state.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most effective way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 is to make the decision to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “We’ve also seen that the use of these antibody treatments can greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and severe illness in those who test positive. These treatments are now available at over 50 healthcare providers across the state, and we’re working to expand access to them every day. We continue to strongly encourage South Carolinians to educate themselves about all of their options and talk to their doctor about what’s best for them.”

“DHEC recommendations on COVID-19 vaccinations and masking have not changed: we still urge the usage of both and believe they are the best ways to get us out of this pandemic,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC Director. “That said, it is important that South Carolinians know about all available resources to keep them safe. Monoclonal antibodies are safe and effective, and our state has several locations where residents can receive them.”

Monoclonal antibodies are a type of treatment doctors have been using for COVID-19 patients since November 2020, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for treatments, according to information provided by the governor’s office.

“One antibody, bamlanivimab, cannot be used by itself but can be used when combined with estesevimab to achieve the desired level of effectiveness. The other currently authorized monoclonal antibody treatments are casirivimab plus imdevimab, (REGEN-COV), and sotrovimab. These antibodies work by directly blocking the effect of the COVID-19 virus in patients that are already infected,” state officials said.

The governor’s office provided the following additional information on the treatment:

Treatment using these antibodies must be authorized and ordered by a doctor or medical provider. Those eligible to receive the treatment are at-risk individuals ages 12 and older who test positive for COVID-19 and exhibit mild to moderate symptoms that began within the last 10 days. In addition, individuals with COVID-19 are not eligible for the treatment if they have been or are currently hospitalized or have received oxygen to assist with normal breathing.

DHEC is working with providers to expand treatment locations, including to areas where there currently are no providers. As of Sept. 1, 2021, more than 16,000 COVID-19 patients in South Carolina have been treated with monoclonal antibodies. It is estimated that this treatment has prevented nearly 2,000 hospitalizations and 200 deaths.

DHEC’s webpage on monoclonal antibodies includes facts on the treatment and a map of treatment locations across the state. The DHEC website provides additional information on COVID-19 and where to get vaccinated.

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