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Antibody treatments showing success within local retirement and assisted living facilities

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - More than 20 residents within Western Home Communities have received monoclonal antibody treatments to combat COVID-19. The organization started administering these infusions in December.

The antibody treatments to treat COVID-19 were approved in November by the Federal Drug Administration as an emergency use authorization. The FDA has authorized the antibody treatment for those who are 12 years of age or older weighing at least 88 pounds, and those who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.

"It just seemed like a practical reasonable thing to do: To give it a try," Western Home Communities Medical Director Dr. Richard Frankhauser said.

Nearly all of the residents within the homes are eligible to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment. The only requirements being 65 years of age or older, receiving a positive COVID test, and getting approval from a doctor.

Medical staff saying the treatments definitely improve the situation, helping more than just the person getting it.

"It does lower the viral load for those individuals that have the infection and should reduce their contagious state to other individuals," Dr. Frankhausen said.

With approval from the Iowa Department of Public Health, and their partner pharmacy Right Dose Pharmacy, Western Home Communities was able to administer the treatments on-site. This way, those who test positive for the virus do not have to leave the facilities and expose others.

The treatments are meant to be given after a positive test result is given, but also before the symptoms become severe.

The intravenous infusion is done in the person's room and completed over the course of an hour, plus an additional hour of observation by a nurse.

A possible side effect is an allergic reaction to the infusion, but staff at Western Home Communities say none of the patients have experienced such.

"I do know that after, I do not see that they had any further complications where they've needed to go to the hospital or they need oxygen," Western Home Communities RN Nurse Mentor Lisa Ridder said.

Staff at the homes say as long as COVID-19 is present, they will continue to give antibodies to those who will benefit from it.

Even after the vaccines are given out, Western Home Communities will continue to offer the treatment. The body will take time to build immunity and there is still opportunity to become infected and sick.

"As long as it's available, as long as we can do that and as long as we have a situation," Dr. Frankhausen said.

The monoclonal antibody treatment can be given before a person is vaccinated, but will have to wait 90 days before they can get the vaccine. That's because the vaccine will be ineffective if the body already contains the antibodies fighting off the infection.

Western Home Communities will vaccinate the last of their independent living residents Friday. Residents will be receiving their second doses.

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Diego Hernandez

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