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New antibody therapy offered at First Coast hospitals

Bamlanivimab is a new antibody therapy doctors at UF Health say could save your life.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — There's a new antibody therapy doctors say could save your life if you contract COVID-19.

UF Health is working to get the word out that the antibody therapy called bamlanivimab. It's made by the company Eli Lilly and it is available at multiple hospitals on the First Coast.

As soon as you test positive for COVID-19 you can ask your doctor about it. You must be within 10 days of testing positive.

"There's really two outcomes that really matter, right?" said Dr. Michael Lauzardo, the director of UF Health's screening, test, and protect program. "It's hospitalizations and then death. If we can prevent people from dying and prevent them from going to the hospital because we give them something that helps them fight this off in time, that's exciting."

UF Health is one of six academic health centers looking at ways to get treatment access to different populations. They are specifically focusing on rural Columbia County using a mobile lab, but they are also getting the word out to other patients and doctors that this is available.

"Even though vaccines are a very important part of us getting out of the pandemic, in the meantime a lot of people are still going to get sick that are high risk," said Lauzardo. "So getting them access to these antibody treatments, called monoclonal antibodies is really important."

Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies made in a lab. Lauzardo says this intravenous treatment did not exist a few months ago.

The therapy is free from UF Health if you're over 65, but other hospitals offer it as well. Find which hospitals in your area offer it here.