TAMPA (WFLA) – Nearly three months before the Regeneron antibody cocktail got a lot of attention after former President Donald Trump tested positive for coronavirus, Tampa radio personality Christopher Denson says he survived COVID-19 because of the same treatment.
“Everybody was like wait Trump didn’t get it first – you got it first – I was like, yeah I got receipts,” Denson said.
Denson said he had “no idea” what monoclonal antibodies were when he became the first COVID-19 patient at Tampa General Hospital last July to receive the lab-made proteins that fight off the virus.
“I couldn’t breathe for three days and the last day they came in and it was a miracle,” he said, “like 30 minutes I was good.”
Dr. Kami Kim told 8 On Your Side she knew monoclonal antibodies were a promising treatment last summer. The same type of therapy has been used to treat cancer patients, she said.
“Not only did (Denson) get better, but his bravery helped a lot of other people because now this treatment is proven,” said Dr. Kim, an attending physician at TGH and the Division Director of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine at USF’s Morsani College of Medicine.
The FDA recently approved the expanded use of monoclonal antibodies for COVID patients beyond just severe cases. The findings of a TGH and USF study published in the global journal “Open Forum Infectious Diseases” also helps validate their use in COVID patients.
“For somebody who hasn’t had the vaccine,” Dr. Kim said, “monoclonal antibodies are giving you these neutralizing antibodies that will prevent you from getting really sick from COVID.”
Dr. Kim told 8 On Your Side more than 900 COVID patients at TGH have received the monoclonal antibodies at an infusion clinic at the Global Emerging Disease Institute.
“Our own data suggests that if you get it within three days of symptoms, you do even better than if you got it within six days,” she said.
Kim said some patients have reported feeling better within a day or two.
“Is it fair to call this a life saving medication?” 8 On Your Side asked Dr. Kim.
“Absolutely, absolutely, I don’t usually say things like this,” she said, “but yes.”
Nearly a year after his COVID scare, Denson said he feels “110 percent” and he is forever grateful for the care he received at Tampa General Hospital.
“Right now, looking back on that, it’s a blessing,” Denson said.
Dr. Kim said the Regeneron cocktail, which mixes two monoclonal antibodies, looks to still be effective against the newer virus variants.
The Florida Department of Health has set up a guide where Floridians can find the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment across the state.