LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The current number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has fallen some over the last 2 months, from a record high of 360 to just under 200.
“It seems to be a good thing so far,” Dr. Drew Payne said.
A regular part of his day now, is to head down to one of UMC’s mobile tents.
Inside is a clinic dedicated to delivering monoclonal antibody treatments for emergency use to treat COVID-19.
Dr. Payne, an internal medicine specialist, says about 1,000 in our area have received the free outpatient treatment since late November.
“It takes a patient about 3 hours to go through an infusion itself, the infusion’s an hour, so it’s an IV medication that runs over an hour, and then we keep the patient for an hour to watch for any side effects,” he explained.
Those include low grade fevers and chills.
“It’s a little hard to know if that’s from the medication or the virus itself. I think enough people have reported it that it probably is a real side effect,” Dr. Payne said.
Payne also says it may be too early to tell how much the infusion clinic is keeping COVID-positive cases out of the hospital.
But he reports two-thirds of patients say they are feeling better 24 hours after treatment.
That is consistent with the initial clinical trial.
“It was called the ‘Blaze 1 Trial’. It was about 500 patients in that and showed about an 80% risk reduction,” Dr. Payne explained.
To qualify patients must meet strict “high risk” criteria and require a referral from a doctor.
“I hope that it’s helping, I really do,” Payne said.
Despite the extra tools at their disposal, he believes things are far from over.
Though hospitalizations have declined in Lubbock, state-wide they have remained just shy of record numbers.