Gov. Greg Abbott offered three updates he called “good news” in the state’s fight against the coronavirus during a Thursday afternoon press conference in Lubbock, which is one of the hard-hit areas of the pandemic right now.
1. The first medical treatment for COVID is now being distributed across Texas
Abbott said Texas cities are currently receiving doses of bamlanivimab, a COVID-19 antibody therapy from Eli Lilly & Company. The drug is intended to help keep hospital capacities under control by treating patients in the early stages of COVID. “That’s the goal, the goal is to both heal Texans as well as ease the burden on hospitals in Lubbock and elsewhere in the coming weeks,” Abbott said.
The treatment is offered in an intravenous drip and takes about one hour to complete. Abbott said the first step toward distributing the drug is to identify those who qualify for it: patients who are 65 years or older, who are in the early stages of COVID and have other health issues. He added many nursing home residents will automatically qualify for the drug.
On HoustonChronicle.com: Gov. Abbott sends COVID treatment drugs to hotspots, pledges no more lockdowns
Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt said that while the drug is promising, “it’s not magical.” He added officials are working to target the administration of the drug to Texas cities such as Lubbock that are seeing “a scary surge” in new cases.
“This is a marathon and we are not at the finish line yet,” Hellerstedt said. “Until we get to that point where we have really effective vaccines that are widely available…we are going to need to stick to those basics of prevention.”
2. Another COVID treatment is on the way
Abbott said in addition to the bamlanivimab drug, the state will soon be approved to start receiving another antibody therapeutic drug from Regeneron. He said it’s the same type of treatment as the Eli Lilly & Company drug.
Abbott did not specify how many doses of either drug the state could receive but said daily shipments of supplies are already underway.
3. Two vaccines are expected to be approved in December
“Texas is already prepared structurally for the quick distribution of those vaccines once they are approved,” he said.
Abbott and state leaders stressed that while these developments are positive, there is still no widely available vaccine. Texans should continue to practice personal hygiene, social distance and wear face masks.
Texas was the first state in the nation to surpass one million cases, and researchers estimate at least four times as many people have caught the virus. Despite troubling trends, Abbott reiterated during the press conference that no new shutdown orders would be issued.