PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - With hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units still overflowing with COVID-19 patients, the Oregon Health Authority is suggesting people who do get sick with the virus seek out treatment with monoclonal antibodies, which has become more widely available.

"What we know is that in people given this treatment early in the course of disease, it can prevent more serious disease," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon's State Epidemiologist.

Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab, designed specifically to fight the COVID-19 virus. The antibodies attach to the virus and protect it from infecting cells. The treatments are given either through injection, which takes about two hours, or intravenous infusion, which can take up to four hours. Doctors suggest people who test positive for COVID-19 try to get treated within ten days of the onset of symptoms.

"The benefit of this treatment is if given at that stage in certain patients who are at high risk for progression of the infection, it can halt that process and you can perhaps avoid a trip to the emergency room," said Dr. Morgan Hakki, an infectious disease expert at OHSU.

While OHSU and other health systems currently offer the treatments, they suggest patients start with their primary care providers, who can steer them to the best place to receive treatment.

Hakki said the treatments are safe and well-tolerated, with minimal side effects, but also aid they should not be seen as a substitute for vaccination.

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