COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.
“I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”
MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.
“We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.
Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.
“If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.
Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.
In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:
- Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
- Other respiratory diseases
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
- Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19
The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:
- MedStar Washington Hospital Center
- MedStar Harbor Hospital
- MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
- MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center
“I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”
Learn more about this therapy treatment