Antibody therapy now available in county

Ellis Commissioners team up with Ferris for regional Regeneron center for COVID patients

Staff report
A regional monoclonal antibody infusion center stands ready for COVID-19 patients at the Ferris Scout House last week. The therapy center is a partnership between Ellis County and the city of Ferris.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court partnered with the city of Ferris to jointly administer a regional monoclonal antibody therapy center to help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients in the county’s ICU beds.

The city of Ferris began operating the therapy center on Sept. 13 to provide relief to area residents suffering from COVID-19. Moving forward, operating and staffing costs will be split 50/50 between the city of Ferris and Ellis County.

The therapy center offers Regeneron antibody infusions to those suffering from COVID-19. According to Brooks Williams, the City Manager of Ferris, these infusions have demonstrated that they reduce the risk of hospitalization in about 70 percent of people who developed severe cases of COVID. More notably, some estimates indicate that infusions potentially save the lives of 10 percent of the patients who receive them. The infusion process takes about 1 hour, and after receiving an infusion, patients are normally symptom-free within 48 hours. As of Wednesday, Sept. 22, the infusion center had treated at least 375 patients.

In the past, Regeneron infusions were administered through a drip I.V. Now, patients can receive antibodies through a series of smaller injections, making the process much more pleasant for the patient. The Regeneron antibody treatment process has been authorized by the FDA under the same emergency use guidelines as COVID-19 vaccinations, although it is not intended to be a preventative substitute for vaccination. Only individuals who are currently infected with COVID-19 are eligible to receive antibody infusions. Free COVID testing is available at the therapy center for those suffering symptoms and wishing to receive treatment.

“I can personally attest to the effectiveness of antibody infusion,” said County Judge Todd Little. “My wife and I both recently contracted COVID, and I tell you — it was far worse than the flu. I suffered severe symptoms for about six days, but within one day of receiving the antibody infusions, I was feeling better. Many of my colleagues have also had the same positive experience with the infusions. I believe wholeheartedly that this is a treatment option that can help save lives.”

“Since antibody infusion is able to keep about 70 percent of patients out of the hospital, this therapy center could help us dramatically reduce our ICU bed count,” the Judge continued. “We want to help out our hospitals and healthcare professionals as much as possible by keeping COVID patients out of the hospital, and we want our citizens to have access to all viable treatment options. This therapy center has the potential to become a turning point for our community as we navigate through this wave of the pandemic.” 

The antibody therapy center is located at the Ferris Scout House at 514 Mable Street, Ferris, TX 75125 and open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Nov. 15. It is staffed by nurses from MDLab, a Rockwall-based mobile healthcare workforce that specializes in immunization and therapeutics.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with or has exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 within the last 10 days may sign up to receive treatment at Walk-ins are also welcome, but preference will be given to Ellis County residents if slots are limited. Prescriptions and medical insurance are not required.