Antibody infusion therapy helping to prevent COVID-19-related hospitalizations
When The Reverend Dr. John Campbell, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Marietta, NC, started having symptoms of COVID-19 after a direct exposure, one of the first people he contacted was Dr. Robin Peace, a family medicine specialist at Southeastern Medical Clinic North Lumberton.
Campbell learned about the benefits of Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Therapy before his positive test result, including how, if administered early in a COVID-19 diagnosis, it could be a powerful tool in overcoming the, often times, serious symptoms of the virus and preventing hospitalizations in high risk individuals.
“I am over 65 and I don’t mind sharing that I’ve had three stents, am overweight and pre-diabetic, so I was at risk for more serious symptoms and hospitalization,” said Campbell, a native of Robeson County who served on the Public School of Robeson County School Board for 25 years.
Campbell advised Dr. Peace of his symptoms and recent exposure and inquired about infusion therapy. Dr. Peace guided Campbell through the steps to get a PCR COVID-19 test (non-rapid), which is required to be eligible for the infusion therapy.
“I got tested on Dec. 21 and received a positive result on Dec. 23,” said Campbell. “By the afternoon of Dec. 23, Dr. Peace had completed the referral and I was receiving the infusion therapy.”
Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Therapy is medically indicated for positive COVID-19 patients ages 12 and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19. This includes patients ages 65 and older with chronic medical conditions.
“I began to feel better immediately,” said Campbell. “My headache was milder and I wasn’t aching as much. As time has progressed, the symptoms have gotten less and less. I credit the antibody infusion to my recovery.”
According to UNC Health Southeastern Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joe Roberts, the health system is administering Bamlanivamab, which is produced by Lilly. The infusion process takes approximately three hours with infusion being one hour and observation for one hour after completion of the infusion.
“I don’t yet have the energy level that I had,” said Campbell, 13 days after receiving his infusion. “I still get tired. I was advised by Dr. Peace not to do everything I feel like doing to give my lungs a chance to heal and restoration to take place. I continue to take it easy and not push myself. Compared to where I was, it was a complete turnaround.”
Patients who receive a positive COVID-19 test result and are at risk for complications due to their age or health conditions should ask their primary care provider if antibody infusion therapy would be beneficial to their recovery. UNC Health Southeastern administers the therapy at Southeastern Health Mall Clinic within the Southeastern Health Mall on the campus of Biggs Park Mall.
“I have shared my experience with my church members so that if any of them were to test positive in the future, they could explore that as just another tool to fight this thing until everyone can get vaccinated,” said Campbell. “The results of the infusion therapy did last and it was real. I am even more of a proponent for folks to get it.”
Individuals who would like more information about antibody infusion therapy or providers who need to make a referral may call Southeastern Health Mall Clinic at (910) 272-1175.