Mayo Clinic uses new treatment for COVID-19 patients

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – More than 700 people in the Chippewa Valley have received COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments from Mayo Clinic Health System.

Since the FDA approved an emergency use authorization for the treatment in November 2020, the healthcare system has been using it to treat patients with high-risk viruses.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are designed to keep people out of the hospital. According to the FDA, they are proteins made in a laboratory designed to mimic the immune system’s ability to fight harmful pathogens such as viruses.

Mayo Clinic Eau Claire medical assistant Lori Arndt said they are meant to jump-start the immune system.

“It prevents the virus from attaching itself to your cells and prevents you from developing severe COVID symptoms,” he said.

In mid-January, Bob and Joyce Wachsmuth tested positive for COVID-19. Bob Wachsmuth, 70, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a type of lung disease. After her positive test, a Mayo Clinic doctor viewed her chart and recommended that she receive monoclonal antibodies.

“I had more of a sense of relief because I had these underlying things, this was available to me and it would probably speed up recovery and keep me out of the hospital or shorten my stay,” said Bob Wachsmuth.

A cancer survivor, Joyce Wachsmuth, 67, also qualified for treatment. As a retired nurse, she didn’t think twice about taking experimental therapy.

“I had such severe pain in my body and joints that anything that could relieve me was greatly appreciated,” he said.

Hours after receiving the hour-long infusion, Joyce Wachsmuth said the pain began to subside.

“It was very fast that those monoclonal antibodies were doing their job,” he said.

But the most important thing for Bob and Joyce Wachsmuth is that they feel better.

“I feel like COVID hit like a long time ago actually when I put it all into perspective, even though it’s only been three weeks,” Joyce Wachsmuth said.

“I feel good. Like I said, it doesn’t seem like such a short time,” said Bob Wachsmuth.

Arndt said the vast majority of patients who received monoclonal antibodies avoided hospitalization.

Although patients receive the infusion in the hospital, they can go home later that day.

Arndt said that patients receiving monoclonal antibodies must wait 90 days before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

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