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UF Health offers new COVID-19 treatment as Florida ranks #1 for UK variant

UF Health offers new COVID-19 treatment as Florida ranks #1 for UK variant
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 6:20 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 186 cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 in Florida. It was the final day of 2020 that the first case of the UK variant of COVID-19 was reported.

Now, Florida leads throughout the country. While the majority of those cases are in the southern part of the state, so far two are in North Central Florida. The CDC updates their COVID-19 variant dashboard every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m.

“We’re gonna get through this, we just gotta kind of stick through the plan for right now and keep fighting until the bell rings,” said Dr. Micael Lauzardo, the Deputy Director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogen’s Institute. “Bamlanivimab, which is the name of the drug.”

Tapped to fight covid-19 and its variants is a mono-clonal anti-body treatment that UF Health is offering in Columbia County.

“That variant that’s been found in England, the monoclonal antibody has been shown to be pretty effective against them still,” added Lauzardo. “The one’s from South Africa and potentially Brazil, maybe not as much. We need more study to know for sure.”

The FDOH reported a positive case for the UK variant in Suwannee and Alachua counties.

As a part of the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, UF health received 1000 doses of the anti-body treatment for people age 65 and older testing positive for the virus within ten days.

“But whether or not this is affecting the treatment is going to be something we won’t know until some time. And we know now that these work. So right ow what I would recommend is that if someone 65 or older and they get diagnosed especially with covid if they have what we call with co-morbidities or other conditions that put them at risk like diabetes, hypertension, obesity that they should talk with their doctor about getting referred to get mono-clonal antibody therapy.”

The shot is free and not for people who are currently hospitalized with the virus.

“Still do exactly everything the same,” mentioned Lauzardo.

“These treatments do not last after that initial treatment. They hang around for a while. They help you recover. They help you fight off the infection. But they’re not something that’s going to take the place of the vaccine. It just means that after having covid, we want you to go ahead and get the vaccine a little bit later. If you get treated with one of these medications, so instead of getting it right now, get it 2 to 3 months down the road.”

UF Health is also partnering with the non-profit CommunityHealth IT to provide rides for eligible patients to receive the treatment.

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