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Officials: COVID vaccinations, antibody treatments answer to fourth wave concerns

Health officials are concerned over a potential fourth wave of COVID cases, but say vaccinations and antibody treatments can help allay worries.

More than 4,630 positive COVID-19 test results and 26 deaths were reported to the Mississippi State Department of Health July 13-19.

MSDH regularly tests a select number of cases for presence of coronavirus variants, which can be more infectious and more easily transmitted than conventional COVID-19. Six major variants have been found in the state since January. The delta variant accounts for 31% of the cases tested to date, an increase from 8% the previous week.

Statewide, 419 patients were hospitalized as of Monday afternoon with confirmed COVID infections and 53 with suspected infections. Fifty-seven of the 138 patients in intensive care units were also on ventilators. As of Tuesday afternoon, King’s Daughters Medical Center had one person hospitalized with a positive case of COVID-19. The patient was not in the ICU.

“There is definite concern over the possibility of a fourth wave,” said hospital marketing director David Culpepper. “Right now we haven’t seen an uptick, but that could change literally overnight.”

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s State Health Officer, recommends the monoclonal antibody treatment for positive cases.  Early intervention with monoclonal antibody treatment may reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing more serious illness.

Culpepper said hospital personnel at Kings Daughters Medical Center had administered 35 doses of monoclonal antibodies over the previous seven days.

“The infusion helps reduce symptoms in people who are less severe, in hopes of keeping them out of the hospital, and helps them recover quicker,” Culpepper said.

The majority of cases KDMC has seen in recent days are in people who have not been vaccinated, he said.

“It’s going to be a rough few weeks, so please be careful. If you’re not vaccinated, and you want to get vaccinated, one of the things that is important to know is that it takes a while for the vaccine to be effective. So take some common sense steps over the next several weeks to reduce the risks of transmission of COVID,” Dobbs said during a press conference on Tuesday about the possibility of a fourth wave.

“The best thing to do is get vaccinated,” Culpepper said. “Now that doesn’t guarantee you’re not going to get it, but it’s like getting a flu shot doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu. But it does make it less likely.”

Lincoln County has reported 4,074 cases and 115 total deaths to date.