MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – Utahns at high risk of getting ‘very sick’ from COVID-19 can now receive monoclonal antibody treatment, courtesy of the state health department.

Researchers at Intermountain Healthcare recently found treating high-risk COVID-19 patients with a monoclonal antibody treatment can reduce severe illness and hospitalizations by more than 50%. They also found monoclonal antibody treatment saved many patients from dying due to complications from the virus.

Since November, UDOH reports about 7,100 Utahns have received monoclonal antibody infusions, preventing an estimated 900 hospitalizations. Research has found one in eight Utahns at the highest risk of severe disease from COVID-19 can avoid hospitalization when properly identified and treated with monoclonal antibodies.

“In a real-world application, we found that these monoclonal antibodies are as effective as clinical trial results suggested,” explains Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease doctor with Intermountain Healthcare. “Based on our findings, we recommend putting resources towards monoclonal treatment programs because they help patients avoid poor outcomes, and because they are a powerful tool to prevent overflowing hospitals.” 

The Utah Department of Health Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Center is now open in Murray on the campus of the Intermountain Healthcare Employee Services Center at 5245 College Drive. According to UDOH, the medical facility is deployable and will serve as a high volume site able to treat as many as 50 patients a day. The treatments will supplement monoclonal antibody infusions already taking place at hospitals across Utah.

Monoclonal treatment is given via intravenous infusion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, says the drugs used for monoclonal treatment – casirivimab and imdevimab, sotrovimab, and bamlanivimab and etesevimab – are investigational but have been approved for emergency use. The federal government is currently distributing monoclonal antibodies treatments at no cost for patients, according to UDOH.

The main drug in use is Regeneron’s dual-antibody cocktail, which has been purchased in mass quantities by the U.S. government. It’s the same drug former President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalized with COVID-19 last October. States like Florida and Texas have begun administering monoclonal antibody treatments at infusion centers like this.

Dr. Senthil Aruchamy tells ABC4 affiliate KTVI monoclonal antibody treatment has lab-created antibodies in it that specifically target the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The treatments help the patient by supplying concentrated doses of one or two antibodies. These treatments are usually administered to people who have just been exposed to or who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are experiencing mild to moderate illness.

UDOH has not yet released details on who will be eligible to receive treatment at the Murray center. For more information about monoclonal antibody therapy, visit UDOH’s website.