(CNN) On September 17, Mayra Arana made the phone call she says saved her life.
Arana had been vaccinated against Covid-19, but she developed a breakthrough infection.
She feared the virus might kill her, since her immune system is weak after years of treatment for leukemia.
Arana’s family physician in California told her there wasn’t much she could do besides stay home and rest.
At home, following her doctor’s advice, Arana felt sicker by the hour. Her husband placed a pulse oximeter on her fingertip, and it showed her blood oxygen levels were dipping dangerously low.
“I’m Catholic, so I kept praying,” Arana said.
“It’s unconscionable. We have an evidence-based drug, and it’s provided free by the government, but there are barriers built into the system to get it.” – Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert and professor at the UCSF School of Medicine
Getting more and more worried, Arana called her oncologist at the University of California San Francisco.
It turned out her family physician was wrong: There is a treatment for early-stage Covid-19.
By this point, Arana was so weak she couldn’t walk on her own. Her husband, a school bus driver and custodian, got her out of bed and drove her to UCSF Fresno, where she received four shots of the treatment, called monoclonal antibodies.
“The next day I could feel a difference. Two days later I could get out of bed and clean the house and feed my children,” Arana said. “I really do think the antibodies saved my life.”
An investigation by CNN shows Arana is not alone in her challenge to find monoclonal antibodies.
Many patients who qualify for the drugs say their doctors never mentioned them, even though it has been nearly a year since antibodies were first authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration … READ MORE.