Got The Virus and Underlying Conditions?  God Help You — The Powers That Be Won’t

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The powers that be can’t both mismanage the provision of monoclonal antibodies and suppress all other forms of early treatment of coronavirus.

Two years after SARS-CoV 2 sprang onto the scene we have an actual worldwide pandemic on our hands. COVID, currently in the form of the highly contagious Omicron variant, is everywhere. Vaccinated, unvaccinated, boosted, mask-wearing, double-mask-wearing — it doesn’t matter. With Omicron it’s not a matter of if, but when, you’ll get it.

So naturally my entire extended family of 20 has now been exposed to and contracted the ‘Rona. For most of us, it was a big “nothing burger,” to quote my brother. Five of the 12 grandkids were totally asymptomatic; my husband went jogging every day that he was “battling COVID”; and for those of us with symptoms, it was a 24-to-48-hour fever-virus.  Fairly manageable.

Not so for my 76-year-old mom. Although she’s not obese or diabetic like most high-risk COVID patients, she is high-risk in her own way:  a stroke survivor, immunocompromised due to recent radiation treatment, who in recent years has suffered several bouts of walking and viral pneumonia (one requiring hospitalization).

Given her health history, we all paid close attention when she contracted COVID despite having received her vaccines and a booster. Although Omicron is the mildest version of COVID, it hit her hard. She spiked a fever in the middle of the night, and got up the next day with a terrible cough.

She immediately contacted her primary care doctor who passed her along to a “Covid Resource Center.” The center is run by a Massachusetts Department of Public Health contractor charged with facilitating multiple monoclonal antibody distribution sites throughout the Commonwealth. This is how many states have decided to allot these antibodies since the federal government seized control over their distribution and supply this fall. The COVID resource clinicians took all her information, agreed that she was high-risk, and said they would see if she could get on the list to receive monoclonal antibodies to try to treat the virus.

Although she gained approval to receive monoclonal antibodies that very same evening, she was unable to get on any schedule to actually receive the treatment. This is what happens when federal control of key medicines meets managed health care:  nothing. Literally nothing. Ten days after my mom tested positive and was connected to the Covid Resource Center she received a note from … someone. It was signed “Covid Resource Center.” In it, the author, using the pronoun “We,” regretted to inform her that the center was “unable to secure an appointment for her within her 10-day treatment window” and that the center “made the ordering provider aware.” The missive was signed “best” … as if wishing her their best was comparable to getting her actual medical treatment for a potentially deadly disease.

What my mother’s fate would have been had we relied exclusively on the Covid Resource Center I hate to think. Luckily, my siblings and I have been paying attention to the other (censored) science of early COVID treatment, and were aware of the extremely poor results associated with later, hospital-based COVID treatment. So as my mother’s temperature rose, and her cough worsened, and she fretted about her lungs, we looked for a doctor who would actually treat her symptoms rather than allow them to escalate until she developed pneumonia (again) and needed to be hospitalized (again).

We had to look out of state to find a doctor who would offer a telemedicine appointment and actually speak to her and treat her. After learning about her unique health history, he prescribed three things that many front-lines doctors are using around the world to treat COVID:  an antibiotic (Z pack), a steroid (Prednisone), and a drug with anti-viral properties (Ivermectin).

The state of Massachusetts frowns on Ivermectin for treating COVID – despite its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and the fact that is on the World Health Organization 2021 list of essential medicines (for humans, not horses) and is used to treat a whole host of diseases (scabiesriver blindnessrosacealiceLyme diseasemalaria). So we had to fill the prescription in another state and spirit it into Massachusetts like it was fentanyl.

A five-day course of these three medicines in combination seems to have done the trick, and my mother is well on the road to the recovery, battling only the lingering (and manageable) COVID effects like loss of smell and brain fog.

No thanks to the inaptly named “Covid Resource Center.” The ambivalence and incompetence of those put in charge of a high-risk COVID patient like my mother is terrifying.

When my mother asked the folks of the COVID Resource Center if there was anything else she might take for her symptoms while we awaited word on monoclonal treatment, they suggested hot tea and Tylenol — as if she were a healthy 20-year-old with a sore throat, rather than an immunocompromised septuagenarian with a proclivity for pneumonia battling a potentially deadly respiratory virus. They didn’t even recommend taking zinc or Vitamin C or Vitamin D.

What exactly is the purpose of a COVID Resource Center if it doesn’t point patients, especially high-risk patients, to any COVID resources of any kind — not zinc, not Vitamin D, not an antibiotic, not a steroid, not an anti-viral, and most definitely not monoclonal antibodies?

Over the last several months we have learned that COVID might not be preventable, but it is treatable. Sometimes monoclonal antibodies are an effective early treatment for COVID-19. (To be fair, some are no longer as effective as they used to be; only one of the three types of antibodies has proven to be effective against Omicron.) Sometimes patients respond well to a combination of medicines that include drugs such as Ivermectin.

But for the powers-that-be in Massachusetts to botch the administration of one and effectively eliminate the possibility of the other is medical malpractice.

We are two years into this global pandemic. Can’t we do better? When the masks and the vaccines and the boosters and the monoclonals fail (or fail to be provided), we are going to want access to all possible COVID resources and early treatment options, especially for our high-risk and most vulnerable.

They should get them.


Katie MacLeod lives in Alabama.  Her mother lives in Massachusetts.


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