There’s a new monoclonal antibody regional center, or MARC, being set up in San Deigo that will also offer free testing. It’s the first of its kind in the county and the fifth treatment facility dedicated to monoclonal antibody treatments.
Because of a spike in COVID cases, the county is setting up the new facility at Cathy Hopper Clairemont Friendship Center on Bannock Avenue.
“This is a center that will save lives," San Diego mayor Todd Gloria said, “It will provide early treatment to COVID-19 positive patients, helping to prevent hospitalization.”
Anyone can get treatment, regardless of health insurance or immigration status, but they have to have tested positive, had symptoms for 10 days or less, be 12 and older and at high-risk for getting sick because of underlying conditions.
Within hours of treatment, monoclonal antibodies block the virus that causes COVID-19 from attaching to human cells — making it more difficult for the coronavirus to reproduce and cause harm in the body.
From February to June, the county treated 413 people at MARC facilities. Since then, that number more than tripled, now up to total of 1,906.
“Monoclonal antibodies have been shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19 related hospital visits and help people feel better faster,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said.
Health officials reiterated the treatment is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.
“Listen to me, folks: We do not want you to die,” San Diego City Council President Dr. Jennifer Campbell said. "We want you to get your vaccine, live and have a wonderful life."
The Bannock Avenue facility is expected to open Sept. 7. Although it’s free, prospective patients have to call prior to their arrival.
County health officials said they are seeing an increase in the number of vaccinated patients needing the treatment, but numbers are still low compared with how many unvaccinated individuals require it.
The other MARC sites in San Diego County are located in Escondido, the Vista Community Clinic, and through the Family Health Centers of San Diego in Hillcrest and Chula Vista. Click here for more information about the MARC's or call 619-685-2500.