By Kevin Deutsch
A new state-run site will offer monoclonal antibody treatments to COVID-19 patients starting Tuesday.
The site at Markham Park, 16001 W. State Rd. 84 in Sunrise will remain open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., state officials announced Monday.
According to the Florida Department of Health, monoclonal antibodies work by helping the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the COVID-19 virus.
The treatment is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization for use in adult and pediatric patients 12 and older who have either been diagnosed or exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe illness, hospitalization or death from the virus, according to the state.
In clinical trials, treatment with monoclonal antibodies resulted in a 70 percent reduction in risk for hospitalization and death and an 82 percent reduction in risk for contracting COVID-19 for people exposed to the virus by other members of their household, state officials said.
The treatment can be used for all patients, regardless of vaccination status, and is most effective when given early. There is no time limit to receive the medication, officials said, but it must be delivered prior to the onset of severe illness.
High-risk patients should get treatment as quickly as possible after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the state.
Examples of medical conditions that may pose a higher risk for severe illness and could potentially benefit from the treatment include people over 65 or pregnant, overweight people, people with chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, sickle cell disease and neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy.
There is no cost for the treatment. According to the state health department, no one will be denied services due to the inability to pay for administrative costs at State of Florida sites. However, insurance can be billed if available.
There is currently a standing order in Florida signed by the State Surgeon General that allows patients to receive the treatment without a prescription or referral if administered by an eligible health care provider. Officials say such referrals are not required at any State of Florida monoclonal antibody treatment sites.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.