Monoclonal antibody treatment for immune compromised comes to TGH

Tampa General Hospital is among the first hospitals in Florida to acquire a supply of COVID-19 preventative monoclonal antibodies that could help those whose immune systems are compromised.

Many transplant, cancer, and AIDS patients are out of luck when it comes to the vaccines because their bodies don't produce antibodies. For Cindy Coney of Tampa, it was three shots and she was out.

"When I got the results of the booster, I cried," she said of her post-booster antibody test. "The results came back negative."

For Coney, who has lupus, that meant nearly two years of sheltering indoors, only seeing select family and not doing hobbies would have to continue.

MORE: UCSF researchers: Binax home tests highly accurate in detecting omicron

She got a dog to pass the time.

"My book club started meeting, everything I did, and everything I enjoy started meeting again in the fall, and I couldn't go," she said.

Coney is one of the 7 million U.S. adults, 3%, with compromised immune systems. 

She says Astra-Zeneca's Evusheld may give her a shot at getting partially back to normal. 

In one study of the injectable monoclonal antibodies, 78% of those with weakened immune systems were kept safe from COVID

TGH is first in Hillsborough County with a supply.

"I am hoping I will be one of the lucky people who will get one of those doses," she said.

Crucially, TGH says it can increase protection to omicron by between 12- and 30-fold. 

MORE: Is 4 better than 3? Health experts consider need for another COVID booster

For now, there are 3,200 doses available in Florida across eleven sites.

"It is significant," said Dr. Peggy Duggan, TGH's chief medical officer. "It's a big impact for those patients, especially because their impact from the vaccine is so limited."

Just ask leukemia survivor Patrick VanHorn, who this morning became one of the first to get it in California.

"I felt like I had a fighting chance in case I get sick," he said hours after getting the shot. "There are a lot of us who haven't felt that way in a while."

TGH says anyone who is curious about getting the treatment should speak with their doctors first.

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