- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Federal health officials are teaming up with a Tucson hospital to provide COVID-19 medicines that may help keep infected people out of the hospital.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Tucson Medical Center on Thursday began administering monoclonal antibody therapeutic treatments at a temporary COVID-19 infusion center.

The department says the center is the second federally supported infusion center in the country to treat certain COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms but who are at high risk of severe illness or hospitalization.

Antibodies are made by the body’s immune system to fight the virus. But it can take several weeks after infection for the best ones to form. The drugs supply concentrated doses of one or two antibodies that worked best in lab tests.

Patients being treated at the TMC infusion center will receive medicines from either Eli Lilly and Co. or Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, both products can be used to treat adults and older children who meet certain criteria and who are referred by their medical providers.

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