Antibody treatment given to Houston patients is helping prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations

Friday, December 4, 2020
Antibody treatment in Houston preventing hospitalizations
Hospitalizations are increasing in Houston at a concerning rate but there is something that's helping keep those patients from ending up in the hospitals.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hospitalizations are increasing in Houston at a concerning rate, but there is something that's helping keep some patients from ending up in hospitals. It's an antibody treatment called Bamlanivimab. Both Memorial Hermann and Houston Methodist are administering it.

Sandy Zeluff, a 69-year-old retired nurse, was one of the patients at Houston Methodist.

"I started having crazy bad headaches, shooting headaches and I just didn't feel good," said Zeluff.

Zeluff knew something wasn't right so she quarantined from her husband. Days later, she tested positive for COVID-19 and thing weren't improving.

"My blood oxygen started declining, which really worried me," said Zeluff.

So days later, she went to Houston Methodist, where she received an antibody treatment. She's one of roughly 50 patients who have been infused with the treatment through the hospital system, or are scheduled to be.

"These are antibodies that are neutralizing. So basically what they do is, they interfere with the ability of the virus to bind to human cells and infect them. In doing so, it allows your immune system time to start clearing the virus," said Houston Methodist Pulmonologist Dr. Howard Huang

The treatment should be given as soon as possible.

"The recommendation is within 10 days of symptom onset, with a positive test," said Dr. Huang.

As far as who's eligible for the treatment, it includes people who are high-risk, such as someone 65 years old or older, people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Zeluff got the treatment Friday and by Saturday she was doing much better.

"I avoided hospitalization, which is what the therapy is meant to do. So I'm very grateful. We're very fortunate," said Zeluff.

Learn more about the antibody treatment as Methodist Hospital answers common questions.

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