WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Lee Gill is immunocompromised. He rightfully was concerned last week when he got COVID-19 and started experiencing symptoms.
“I know of some pretty healthy people and it’s knocked the snot out of them,” he said.
Gill has a type of leukemia, which made him a prime candidate for a new therapy. It’s called monoclonal antibody therapy.
Dr. Collins Kellogg, a physician with Samaritan Medical Center, says the therapy involves manmade antibodies that are targeted against the “spike protein” on the COVID-19 virus.
“I’m sure you’ve seen cartoons of what the virus looks like with those spikes on it. Well, antibodies attach to that and it helps prevent the virus from invading our cells,” said Dr. Kellogg.
Not just anyone with symptoms can walk in to get the treatment. Right now, only physicians at Samaritan Medical Center are able to refer patients for the therapy if they meet the criteria.
Criteria include having cardiovascular disease, diabetes, a compromised immune system, and being over the age of 65.
Clinical trials have shown the infusion therapy has significantly reduced COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths during 29 days of follow-up.
“It does save lives, saves hospitalizations, and saves hospital beds. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Dr. Kellogg.
Gill got his treatment last week and says so far, his symptoms have been held at bay.
“We’re pretty fortunate here in this little community we have to have such a strong treatment facility,” he said.
As of Wednesday, 75 patients like Lee have received the treatment as Samaritan looks to make the therapy more accessible for north country residents.