New monoclonal antibody treatment site opening in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state of Florida will open five additional monoclonal antibody treatment sites — including one in Jacksonville — starting Tuesday.

The new site in Duval County will be located at the Southside Senior Center at 10080 Beach Blvd. and will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Jan. 3, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the federal government to increase the supply of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 to Florida. He later announced 15,000 doses of Regeneron had been secured to support new treatment sites in Florida.

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In Jacksonville, free Regeneron treatment is also available at the Joseph Lee Center at 5120 Perry St.

For more than a year, antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly have been the go-to treatments for early COVID-19, thanks to their ability to head off severe disease and keep patients out of the hospital. But both drugmakers recently warned that laboratory testing suggests their therapies will be much less potent against the omicron variant, which contains dozens of mutations that make it harder for antibodies to attack the virus. And while the companies say they can quickly develop new omicron-targeting antibodies, those aren’t expected to launch for at least several months.

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“One of the reasons omicron is so concerning, is because it has such a large number of mutations,” Dr. Jonathan Kantor told News4JAX. “You can think about the viruses -- the lock, for example. So if it’s all those mutations slightly changed, where the pins are in the lock, than the antibody -- which is the key -- might not fit quite as well.”

Kantor, a scholar at the Penn Center for Global Health, said the only antibody treatment shown to work against the omicron variant is sotrovimab.

“The data that we’re seeing now is suggesting that sotrovimab would be the monoclonal antibody of choice to use,” Kantor said. “And that, you know, it may not even be worthwhile to treat with monoclonal antibodies.”

And Dr. Kantor says finding this form of treatment has been difficult across the US.

“A number of states have basically been trying to ration their sotrovimab for those patients who could benefit the most from it. So for example, those who are immunosuppressed,” Kantor said.

While companies like Regeneron and Eli Lilly say they can quickly develop new omicron-targeting antibodies, those aren’t expected to launch for at least several months.

A full list of state-supported or previously state-supported operational monoclonal antibody therapy sites can be found here.

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.