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Two years into the pandemic: two COVID-19 treatments are FDA approved

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 18:34:06-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Nearly two years into the pandemic, there are two available treatments for those infected.

“Of course, it’s always better to prevent an infection than treat an infection,” Dr. Thomas Russo said. “And particularly with COVID, all bets are off.”

On Wednesday the FDA approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill. Doctor Thomas Russo from the UB Jacobs School of Medicine said the key is identifying infection early.

“People need to get tested quickly,” Dr. Russo said.

According to Pfizer, the pill is nearly 90% effective in reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Researchers also expect the pill to be effective against the Omicron variant.

“If given with in 5 days, it has civil efficacy in decreasing hospitalizations,” Dr. Russo said.

Another treatment option is monoclonal antibodies Dr. Russo said this treatment should be administered within ten days of infection.

Two years into the pandemic: two COVID-19 treatments are FDA approved

“Antibodies are most effective the earlier they’re given,” Dr. Russo said. “So, the earlier the better.”

The FDA says monoclonal antibodies enhance or mimic the immune systems attack on cells. The treatment is administered by IV and only needs to be done once after infection.

“They [antibodies] can go to work immediately to prevent the replication of the virus and decrease symptoms,” Dr. Russo said.

But Dr. Russo said the Omicron variant does present a problem when it comes to the treatment.

“If it’s Omicron it’s not going to work,” Dr. Russo said. “But if it’s delta it may help you.”

And Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said monoclonal antibody treatments are not readily available.

“We have not received any shipment of this monoclonal antibody treatment and we are out,” Dr. Burstein said.

She said new treatments do not mean vaccination against COVID-19 is not important.

“If plan A is to get a monoclonal antibody treatment if you’re infected, that many not work,” Dr. Burstein said. “So, you need a plan B.”