AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - A new antibody treatment that was once administered to former President Donald Trump is now widely available to people coming down with COVID-19. However, there are requirements: a patient must be 65 and up, or someone with chronic medical conditions.
"I did security work, crypto [intelligence]," Gary Springs described of his time in the Marines Corp during the Vietnam War.
Springs, 81, has been through a lot in his time, from his military service to health complications.
"We both have pacemakers," he said
Then COVID-19 was another battle he had to fight.
"I had a headache, I had a fever," Springs said.
He thought it was a lot like the flu, and it could have gotten worse, but this time he was able to receive a life-saving treatment using monoclonal antibodies.
"So, it's a similar concept to convalescent plasma, that you're giving antibodies from recovered patient to a sick patient. The difference is some of them may be good, some of them may be not so good in terms of antibodies. This is a particular approach where you identify those that are highly potent," Dr. Adit Ginde with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Emergency Medicine said.
Ginde wants people to know this treatment can prevent hospitalization. It's an infusion that takes about an hour, and it's available at 30 medical centers across the state. So far, UCHealth has administered it to 1,300 people across its network.
"By the next day, I had no symptoms at all," Springs recalled.
The treatment is effective if COVID-19 is detected early on. Springs' wife, Sharon, also caught the virus, but she had to be hospitalized for eight days. By the time she was brought to the hospital she already had some complications that caused her to only breathe at 80% oxygen saturation levels.
"We tried to be so good about it. We didn't leave the house all summer and fall. Our granddaughter did all of our shopping for us," Springs explained.
It could be a game changer in the way COVID-19 is treated, particularly as new variants are showing up.
"So, the variants that are here in Colorado right now, these monoclonal antibodies are effective at neutralizing the virus," Ginde said.
The drug is free, however, there is a cost for infusion. It's covered by both private and public insurance such as Medicaid and Medicare.
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