COLORADO SPRINGS — As news headlines continue about the high COVID-19 hospitalization rates in Colorado, it’s important that if you test positive for COVID-19, you ask your doctor whether getting monoclonal antibodies would be appropriate for you.
Ragan Sasaki is a Colorado Springs resident who says she has been very worried about coming down with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. Ragan is fully vaccinated and is in the high-risk category. “I have two underlying health conditions - thyroid cancer and a lung condition that is not curable called bronchiectasis.”
In early October, Ragan says that what she thought was sinus congestion and cold-like symptoms turned out to be her worst fear: COVID. “I lost my taste and smell so then I made an appointment with my primary care (doctor) and told him my symptoms. Right when I told him I lost my taste and smell he said to go get tested.”
The COVID-19 test came back positive which led to monoclonal antibodies, but not the way she thought. Ragan says, “My oncologist called me and told me that I should look into it (monoclonal antibodies). I was going to look into it but before I could, UCHealth called me, and I set up an appointment through the nurse on the phone.”
Ragan took the first available appointment, which was with UCHealth in Lone Tree. For monoclonal antibodies to be most effective, it’s important they are given as soon as possible.
Dr. Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, is an emergency medicine physician with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and a professor of emergency medicine with the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Ginde has participated in clinical trials, and in some cases led clinical trials of monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 in Colorado since summer of 2020, and has significant expertise when it comes to monoclonal antibody treatments.
Dr. Ginde says, “For patients that are early in their illness, before hospitalization these are highly effective at clearing the virus and preventing hospitalization and death and helping patients recover quicker.”
How much quicker? In Ragan’s case she says, “The next day I did start feeling better and then the second day I really started feeling better. I still don't have taste and smell but all the sinus pressure is gone. I am a huge runner and I'm back to running like normal. I'm a teacher and I'm back at school so besides taste and smell everything is back to normal.”
Ragan has some advice for everyone, especially right now. “First I would say you should get vaccinated. I do think that (being vaccinated) helped with me first getting COVID and not getting a severe case of it. Then if you get the opportunity to get the monoclonal antibodies, I would do it because I think it really helped me. Having the vaccination and then having (monoclonal antibodies) is like having two fighters fight off the virus. I did not have to go to the hospital and I have two underlying conditions so it was important for me to stay out of the hospital.”
Dr. Ginde says right now, three out of every four people who test positive for COVID are eligible for monoclonal antibodies. If you have questions, follow up with your medical provider.
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