Dobbs touts monoclonal antibody treatment amid fourth wave of infections

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021

NATCHEZ — State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs has touted the monoclonal antibody treatment on twitter, in recent days.

He said those who get COVID should “ask their doc or clinic about monoclonal antibody treatment immediately.”

With this statement, Dobbs tweeted a link: msdh.ms.gov/mAb, which lists hospitals and clinics that the Mississippi State Department of Health has designated “COVID-19 Centers of Excellence” for their commitment to COVID-19 prevention and treatment. The state refers patients to these hospitals and clinics because they offer the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Merit Health Natchez is not on this list. However, the monoclonal antibody treatment is offered there to patients who need it, Director of Marketing Kay Ketchings said.

“We are currently are currently only vaccinating our employees. We do not offer vaccinations to the community, which is one of the ways you would get on the list. But we do provide treatment (for COVID),” Ketchings said. “If the doctor deems that the patient would benefit from it then absolutely, we do the treatment.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight of harmful pathogens such as viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Dan Edney of MSDH said during a Tuesday press conference that the artificial antibodies, when introduced early on after infection, have improved patients’ chances of fighting COVID. The treatment has been 75 to 89 percent effective at reducing hospitalization, he said.

State health officials continue to emphasize that vaccines, which have been proven to be safe and effective, are the first line of defense against COVID.

“I’m mad, depressed and upset because we’re going to see a lot people die … for no good reason,” Dobbs said Tuesday. “… A small group of people spreading misinformation is leading folks astray. It’s difficult to watch and upsetting to see this perpetual nonsense go unchallenged. I’m here to fight for Mississippi. … Getting vaccinated is our way out of this.”

Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations have climbed as the COVID Delta variant has spread widely among unvaccinated people, state health officials said.

The states hospitalizations took a leap over the weekend from 343 Mississippians hospitalized with COVID on Friday with 113 in ICU to 419 hospitalized on Sunday with 138 in ICU, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Merit Health had a total of seven COVID patients hospitalized as of Monday according to MSDH. Three of them moved to ICU between Friday and Sunday for a total of four COVID patients in ICU and leaving one ICU bed available at Merit.

Adams County Coroner James Lee said he pronounced a 70 years old white man from Adams County who died with COVID-19 infection on Monday.

The reported total of COVID-19 deaths by MSDH on Tuesday was 87 without the latest virus victim being added. State health officials update the death toll once new COVID deaths reported to them have been verified with death certificates.

Dobbs said more than 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases and 89 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been among unvaccinated patients. Dobbs added almost all the new COVID-19 cases have been the highly infectious Delta variant.

“The Delta variant is taking over transmission in Mississippi with the vast majority in the unvaccinated,” he said. Dobbs said natural immunity from those who’ve already had COVID is “not great” against Delta and recommends they be vaccinated. For those with underlying health conditions who have a higher risk for severe infection, Dobbs recommended they ask their doctor about a booster vaccine.

“It’s bad right now,” he said. “We’re in the middle of the fourth wave and we want to get as many to the other side as we can.”