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‘Much better place’: Amid COVID cases rising in Ohio, experts credit vaccines, treatments

Experts say it’s a good idea to have a plan and talk to your doctor before you test positive to see if you could benefit from COVID treatment options available.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — “There’s no question where we sit now, is a much better place,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Although cases are rising in Ohio and across the country, the weekly average for deaths in Ohio has declined 16% in the last 3 weeks. This latest increase in COVID cases may look much different than the waves we’ve seen in the past.

Infectious disease experts say it really comes down to vaccines and the treatment options we now have available in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Even before you test positive -- they say it's a good idea to have a plan: know where to find a test if you develop symptoms -- and ask your doctor if you could benefit from those treatment options.

"We actually have better therapies than we had two years ago,” said Dr. Mahdee Sobhanie, Infectious disease physician, OSU Wexner Medical Center.

Those treatment options: monoclonal antibodies and Paxlovid.

"They are really for anybody, regardless of their vaccination status who has a high-risk condition,” said Dr. Joe Gastaldo, infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth.

Here in Ohio, there are two types of monoclonal antibodies.

"These are medically manufactured antibodies given to help our immune system in its effort to fight off viruses,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.

Bebtelovimab is administered through a single IV infusion lasting approximately 30 seconds.

"Evusheld on the other hand, is a protective antibody meaning it's intended to prevent disease among vulnerable people with severely compromised immune systems before they're ever exposed to COVID-19,” explained Dr. Vanderhoff.  “Evusheld is given as an injection into the muscle, and it may provide protection for up to six months."

Paxlovid comes in pill form and must be initiated five days of symptom onset.

“The one thing that we're noticing with Paxlovid, is there's this phenomenon of rebound symptoms after you're done with the five days,” said Dr. Sobhanie. “And I think we're still trying to figure out what that exactly means.”

Therapeutic treatments are not one size fits all. Determining which is best for you is up to you and your provider. Experts say they do not replace getting vaccinated and a booster, if you are eligible.

"The benefit of monoclonal antibody is that it's a one-time injection, right? If you get an IV line, you get an infusion, and you're done. Paxlovid, the thing that we do worry about it is that yes, it is a pill, you can take it at home, but it has a component in it….which can cause a lot of drug interactions. And for patients who may be pregnant, or maybe breastfeeding, we don't have a lot of data on it,” said Dr. Sobhanie.

To know where you can access a test or learn more about those treatment options -- there's a new section on the Ohio Department of Health's website here.

COVID-19 in Ohio: Recent Coverage ⬇️

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