RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 is still investigational, but it’s one of the only tools doctors have to try to keep high-risk coronavirus patients out of the hospital.
Cody Purish, who lives in Johnston County, says he received the treatment at WakeMed and credits it for helping him recover from COVID-19.
Purish, 23, described common COVID-19 symptoms including fever, nausea, and body aches.
“I was having severe muscle pains; I was having chest discomfort, coughing,” he recalled.
A few days after symptoms started, COVID-19 landed him in the emergency room at WakeMed. He has Type-1 diabetes, which raises the risk for severe disease.
After going home to isolate, he says someone from the hospital called.
“They told me based on my past medical history I met criteria for the Bam[lanivimab] infusion,” he said.
Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody treatment that helps fight the coronavirus in recently diagnosed high-risk patients.
“When I talked to the triage nurse she said, ‘You know this is an experimental thing’,” he said.
He says the potential for side effects was made clear. According to the FDA, reactions could include fever chills, low blood pressure and the possibility of anaphylaxis among other reactions.
Recalling his conversation with the nurse, Purish said, “She’s like, ‘If something happens, we’ll take you to the emergency department.’”
The thought of taking an experimental drug was intimidating, but so was COVID-19, especially with his risk factors. So, he opted for the treatment.
“I was nervous as all get out when I first went there,” he said. “They were very reassuring; they explained everything as they did it. I literally walked into a unit at WakeMed, sat in the recliner for two hours. They do it like they do an IV if you go to the hospital.”
Purish talked about the experience.
“At first it made me a little bit dizzy and I had a slight headache,” he said, adding the side effects went away once he stood up and moved around. The infusion took about an hour, and he was monitored for another hour before heading home.
Although it’s hard to know for sure, he believes the treatment played a considerable role in his recovery.
“I think it really helped. A couple of days after the infusion I felt significantly better,” he said.
Purish said the treatment didn’t cost him anything.
Right now, the federal government is allocating doses for each state, but some health care providers may have costs associated with giving the treatment, so it’s something potential patients should ask their health care provider.
The treatment is only available to high-risk patients with a doctor’s referral.