Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at Manatee Memorial Hospital last weekend.

Last weekend, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the opening of a new state-supported Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment site at Manatee Memorial Hospital. The hospital is one of 21 sites around the state to offer the treatment.

The Bradenton hospital will be able to serve more than 300 patients per day and will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Treatments are received by appointment only, and will be free.

Monoclonal antibody treatments were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2020 for the treatment of Covid-19. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a lab that can bind to substances in the body, and have been used in other instances to treat cancer. In this case, Covid-19 monoclonal antibodies can bind to Covid-19 cells and reduce the presence of the virus.

The treatments are administered by infusion to those who test positive for Covid-19 and are considered at high risk, including the elderly and those who are obese or have hypertension or diabetes. Others who can receive the treatment include cancer patients and organ transplant recipients, or those with autoimmune diseases. For those who are high-risk and cannot get vaccinated, antibody treatment may be another good option.

Antibody treatment is effective within 10 days after symptoms appear. The treatment administered in Manatee County uses Regeneron, a mix of two monoclonal antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, that has been shown to reduce the potential of hospitalization and death by 70 percent. It can also shorten the duration of symptoms by four days.

Previously, antibody treatments were available by referral from a physician only. DeSantis recently put out a standing order signed by the state surgeon general that allows patients to receive the treatment without a referral.

"Manatee Memorial is not running the clinic. We just gave the space to the state," says Manatee Memorial director of marketing and communications Betty Chambliss. "We are helping to coordinate the clinic in the back of our old emergency department."

To make an appointment for antibody treatment in Manatee County, click here, or call (850) 344-9637. The Manatee County treatment site is located at 206 Second St. E., Bradenton.

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