Photo by Michael Minasi/KUT
Thursday, January 14, 2021 by Ashley Lopez, KUT

Travis County officials say infusion center for Covid-19 antibodies is struggling to keep up with demand

The demand for monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19 is “far outstripping supply,” officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

“We are working hard to expand the capabilities at the infusion site to performing 75 infusions a day,” Dr. Jason Pickett, the EMS System deputy medical director for the city of Austin and Travis County, said, referring to the infusion center that opened last week.

Officials say patients who receive this treatment within the first 10 days of symptoms can avoid a visit to the ICU. The antibodies are administered through an IV during a process that usually takes about an hour. Most patients receive these treatments in hospitals, but officials created the center to take the pressure off hospitals as Covid-19 cases surge.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said the infusion center was set up in the back of an 18-wheeler in Southeast Travis County to bring relief to communities that have been most affected by the pandemic.

“There is a large push to get this to CommUnityCare patients, to get it to people who are Latinx, African American, high risk, older and in Southeast Travis County,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why they physically located it in Southeast Travis County.”

Brown said people who are high risk who start to have symptoms should ask their doctors to refer them to the center.

“If you feel like you need to go to a hospital, definitely just go to the hospital,” he said. “This isn’t for someone who is experiencing severe symptoms.”

Brown said local officials are also going to start offering infusions in places like nursing homes, homes of people who are homebound and other communities that can’t get to the center.

Pickett said officials have expanded the area for patients within the infusion center, but it will still be hard to keep up.

“Given the number of infections (and) the number of cases in our community right now, the demand will still outstrip that supply,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, which is the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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