CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Local health leaders are making preparations ahead of the arrival next month of new COVID-19 antibodies and the first vaccines that Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this week.
“Fewer people will be getting COVID," Abbott said. "People will be recovering from COVID quicker. Fewer people will be hospitalized, and deaths will go down."
In order for the new treatments to work, procedures must be in place at the local level.
“We have to make sure that our plan is solid -- that people are coming, so we don’t waste that vaccine," Director of Public Health for Corpus Christi and Nueces County Annette Rodriguez said.
Wasting of the vaccine could happen if its not handled properly.
Rodriguez believes a version from pharmaceutical company Pfizer will be the first available COVID-19 vaccine. She says it must be stored at 94-degrees below zero and carefully mixed before it can be administered.
But those who receive the vaccine should be protected from the novel coronavirus.
“We know this works," Rodriguez said. "That’s why it’s really exciting."
New, laboratory-made antibodies, that will help COVID-19 patients suffering mild to moderate symptoms beat the virus before their cases become severe, also excite her.
The Coastal Bend is unlikely to receive many doses of the antibodies at first with only 5,000 of them coming to Texas and the bulk of them earmarked for communities with the highest numbers of cases.
But for those who do receive the antibodies here, Rodriguez says it will be a game-changer.
“When you do get this virus, they can give you this medication," she said. "And hopefully you can recover a lot faster, and you don’t have severe illness from it.”
While pharmaceutical companies might try to get reimbursement payments from insurance companies, Abbott says the COVID-19 shot and the antibodies will be free for patients.
“There is not expected to be any out-of-pocket costs for anybody for either these vaccines or for the drug therapies.”