COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — State health officials say more than 16,000 COVID-19 patients in South Carolina have been treated with monoclonal antibodies.

According to DHEC, it’s estimated that this treatment has prevented almost 2,000 hospitalizations and about 200 COVID-19 related deaths in South Carolina.

Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said, “It is remarkable how effective monoclonal antibodies can be in preventing progression of COVID-19 to severe disease. Keeping people at increased risk of severe disease out of the hospital.”

Last week, DHEC and the Governor sent out a release encouraging the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19. They said more than 50 healthcare providers in the state offer the treatment.

Doctors have been using monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19 since November 2020. The FDA granted emergency use authorization for these lab designed antibodies for people over the age of 12.

According to doctors, the antibodies work by blocking the effect of the COVID-19 virus in patients who are already infected.

Dr. Kelly said, “The monoclonal antibodies give a boost to your natural immunity, but they only are temporary. They last about three months.”

She also said the treatment must be given within 10 days of showing symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Kelly said people age 12 or older, as long as they weigh at least 88 pounds, are eligible for the treatment.

According to DHEC, individuals with COVID-19 are not eligible for the treatment if they have been or are currently hospitalized or have received oxygen to assist with normal breathing.

Dr. Kelly says this treatment is not a substitute to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

She said, “Vaccine is our way out of the pandemic. Getting vaccinated is a much better approach to preventing hospitalizations and severe illness leading to death.”

Below is a map with providers offering the monoclonal antibody treatment. DHEC officials say they are working with providers to expand treatment locations, including to areas where there currently are no providers.

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Locations in SC Graphic
List of providers offering monoclonal antibody treatments in SC (Source: DHEC)

To see a list of providers near you offering the COVID-19 vaccine click or tap here.