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Michigan expands antibody treatment to cut hospitalizations

LANSING (AP) — Michigan will expand its use of a COVID-19 treatment in the hopes of substantially reducing its rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, state officials announced Wednesday amid their efforts to bring down the nation’s highest infection rate.

Additional doses of monoclonal antibodies will be given to hospitals and other providers, which will be asked to expand the number of sites where patients can get infusions from the more than 70 that are operating in 37 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

The drugs, delivered intravenously and made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lily, have concentrated doses of lab-made antibodies to fight COVID-19 and are geared toward people who are at high risk for severe symptoms or having to be hospitalized.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the treatment could save lives, adding that it “very likely” helped then-President Donald Trump when he was infected last fall. People who qualify — an estimated 30% of infected residents — include seniors and those with preexisting or underlying health risks.

“If you are diagnosed with COVID, talk to a physician to see if you are eligible for this treatment,” the governor said. “Time is of the essence with these therapeutics. The sooner you receive them after you test positive, the more effective they will be.”

More than 6,600 residents have been treated with the drugs since they were approved for emergency use in November, with 65% reporting they felt better within two days and less than 5% requiring hospitalization.

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