The World Health Organization classified the new COVID-19 variant as a “variant of concern” due to its high mutation and transmission rate. The new strain is called “omicron.” (Getty Images)
Saltzer Health urgent care clinic in Nampa will offer monoclonal antibody treatments, beginning Dec. 1, to people who test positive for COVID-19 and are at risk of hospitalizations.
Vaccines continue to be the best defense against COVID-19, a news release from Saltzer and Southwest District Health noted.
Saltzer will offer the treatments by appointment only, and patients must be referred by a health care provider to the clinic, which is at 9850 W. St. Luke’s Drive, Nampa. Patients who have COVID-19 but don’t have a primary care provider to refer them can call Saltzer Health at 208-463-3000.
Patients do not have to pay for the treatments, and patients don’t need to have health insurance, the news release said.
The treatments can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, if they are given within 10 days of symptom onset.
The synthetic antibodies are available to people age 12 and older, who have risk factors for serious illness, such as age (65 years or older), obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, a suppressed immune system or chronic kidney, lung or cardiovascular disease.
Patients will receive the drugs intravenously (IV infusion) for 20 minutes, followed by one hour of observation.
“While this treatment is not meant to replace vaccinations to prevent COVID, it has been proven as an effective treatment for COVID-infected patients to decrease hospitalization and death,” Dr. John Kaiser, chief medical officer at Saltzer Health, said in the news release.
Unlike the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the monoclonal antibody treatment doesn’t yet have full Food and Drug Administration approval. However, the FDA has authorized the treatment for emergency use, based on clinical trials that showed an up to 70% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths.
The Pfizer vaccine is approved for anyone age 16 and older; it is authorized for emergency use for anyone age 5 to 16.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for emergency use in people 18 and older.
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