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Antibody infusion treatment for COVID-19 a 'success' in Hancock County

A new clinic, up and running for eight weeks now, is giving patients monoclonal antibody infusion treatments to fight the virus.

GREENFIELD, Ind. — Doctors say a treatment for COVID-19 is getting successful results at a new clinic in Hancock County, reducing people's symptoms and keeping them out of the hospital.

Inside Hancock Regional Hospital, it's being called a game-changer in the battle against COVID-19.

A new clinic, up and running for eight weeks now, is giving patients monoclonal antibody infusion treatments to fight the virus.

Doctors say it's working.

"I will tell you, at least from our experience and what we're hearing from patients, it seems to be making quite a huge impact," said Dr. Julia Compton, president of Hancock Physician Network. "Studies are still out. The data's still out. But at least watching it, at least hearing from patients, it does seem to be making a real difference."

Steve Gilbreath is one of the patients who had an antibody infusion. He tested positive for COVID last Wednesday. His symptoms were getting worse by the day.

He said after getting the infusion on Monday, everything changed.

"I woke up this morning, and it was like a new person," Gilbreath said. "I mean, I still kind of feel fair. I still don't feel good. I still feel like I have kind of the flu, but man, the difference between, the difference in 36 hours was unbelievable."

Credit: Stephen Gilbreath
Stephen Gilbreath said he felt like "a new person" after receiving the antibody treatment at Hancock Regional Hospital.

Here's how it works: 

About 20 coronavirus patients a day get a one-hour infusion of a drug approved for emergency use. It's one of two drugs, either from Eli Lilly or Regeneron. The earlier patients get the infusion, doctors say, the better the results.

"If we're able to give it in the first couple days, we start to see symptoms start to get tremendously better. People will notice a difference in the first 24-48 hours," Compton explained. "All of a sudden they start noticing, 'Gosh, I'm starting to breathe easier.' That feeling of being very winded seems to go away within the first couple days and then other symptoms seem to lessen."

Not everyone is eligible for antibody infusions. You have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Over age 65
  • Have a high BMI
  • Have COPD
  • Have diabetes
  • Are immunocompromised
  • Over age 55 with a co-morbidity

A family doctor can recommend you as a candidate for the treatment.

The treatments in Hancock County, Compton said, have kept 97 percent of patients out of the hospital, reducing admissions and people's symptoms, at a time when so many Hoosiers are suffering.

"It feels good to know you can get in there and help people start to feel better because some people just have a very difficult time with COVID-19," Compton said.

"I mean, if this is the way people can go to get over this and get past it," Gilbreath said, "I'm 100 percent for it."

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