FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — McLeod Health announced it has expanded access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment at multiple locations.

For people who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness and have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, this promising mAb treatment has been shown to help prevent the progression of the disease that might otherwise require hospitalization.

McLeod Health will be offering expanded access to the mAb infusion for eligible patients at four locations— McLeod Regional Medical Center, McLeod Health Clarendon, McLeod Health Seacoast, and McLeod Health Loris. To confirm eligibility for the treatment, receive a referral, and book an appointment, patients should go online at www.McLeodCovid.org or contact the McLeod Health COVID Call Center at 843-777-2919 for more information. A copy of the patient’s positive test result is required to schedule an appointment.

If administered within 10 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms, the one-time therapy is highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening. The treatment is administered through intravenous infusion.

With the rapid spread of the Delta variant and only 45 percent of the population fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, the state of South Carolina is in the midst of a major surge in COVID-19 cases.

As of August 9, the state is averaging more than 2,500 cases per day over the past week, up from roughly 200 cases per day a month ago.

“We are pleased to be a part of this important initiative and are committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals in our community have access to COVID-19 care,” said Dr. Dale Lusk, Corporate Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Quality and Safety for McLeod Health. “Monoclonal antibody treatments have been offered to COVID-19 positive patients at McLeod Health since November of 2020 and continuing to provide this service ensures that we play a pivotal role in helping our region and state recover from this pandemic.”

“We know that this treatment can save numerous lives. With the Delta variant again increasing numbers across our state, it is a vital tool to help our patients recover and also curb further spread of COVID-19,” he continued.

McLeod Health is offering the treatment in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),

“South Carolina is seeing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases that is impossible to ignore, and the delta variant is driving it,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “Until we defeat COVID-19 there will continue to be more and more people who find themselves infected, which is why it is so vitally important to have monoclonal antibody therapy treatments available and partners like McLeod Health invested in serving families in underserved areas of South Carolina.”

On March 17, 2021, HHS announced it was investing $150 million to increase access to mAb therapy for high-risk patients in underserved and disadvantaged communities across the country. With support from KPMG LLP, HHS is developing new prototype models for expanding access to mAb treatment and leveraging an existing network of health care partners to provide the therapy for underserved and disadvantaged populations.

McLeod is the first provider organization in South Carolina to join this health equity initiative and joins a growing list of mAbs therapy providers supported by KPMG and sponsored by HHS as part of the federal effort to help end COVID-19 and improve health equity in underserved communities across the country.

The therapy is the first COVID-19 treatment granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for outpatient use. A Phase 3 clinical trial showed that the antibody therapy reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 70% in patients who received the drug intravenously compared to those who received a placebo.

To be eligible for mAb treatment, patients must meet the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) definition of “high risk.” Same-day COVID-19 tests can be performed, followed by a telemedicine visit for evaluation and qualification for therapy. Following completion of the infusion treatment, patients are monitored onsite for an hour. Treatment is offered regardless of immigration status, health insurance coverage, or ability to pay.