A confronting photo taken at a facility providing treatment for the early stages of Covid-19, shows how dire the virus situation has become during a surging third wave in the United States.
The picture was shared to Reddit after a woman received the photo from her husband, and was later confirmed by a local newspaper.
It was taken at the Jacksonville Main Library Conference Center, where monoclonal antibody therapy is being offered to infected patients.
The therapy is being offered in parts of the country and mimics the immunes system's ability to fight antigens, like viruses, and can be used to treat mild to moderate cases of Covid, NBC Miami reported.
The picture, shared by the man's wife Suzanne, urged everyone to be careful amid the rise in Covid infections.
"Everyone please be careful - whether you are vaccinated or not," she wrote on Reddit when sharing the photo.
"My husband (vaccinated, but positive) has been waiting 2+ hours for monoclonal therapy and he says he has never seen people so sick. Moaning, crying, unable to move."
In the photo, people are seen lying on the library floor which has effectively been converted into a healthcare facility.
Louie Lopez, Suzanne's husband, told The Florida Times-Union that the people seen lying on the floor in the photo joined the line after him and they immediately sat down on the floor when they arrived.
He said the woman seen in the photo dressed in yellow dragged herself across the floor as the line moved.
“They were moaning and obviously in a lot of pain. They were miserable,” Mr Lopez said.
In Florida, where more than 20,000 people a day on average are testing positive for the virus, the rising demand has created a scene resembling an overwhelmed emergency room.
After the photo was published this week, Florida health officials said they had increased the number of wheelchairs at the facility.
They also said it is open seven days a week and has plenty of cots, as well as ambulances on standby to transfer the sickest patients to the hospital.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Friday (local time) that the woman in the photo is fine and feeling great after the treatment.
“None of our sites are having a capacity issue,” said Weesam Khoury, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health. “We have the resources and if we need more we can quickly get them.”
Antibody treatment demand rises amid surge
The image has become a vivid illustration of the huge demand for the once-neglected Covid-19 drugs in the states hit hardest by a summer surge of infections being driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Antibody treatments remain one of a handful of therapies that can blunt the worst effects of Covid-19, and they are the only option available to people with mild-to-moderate cases who aren’t yet in the hospital.
They have risen in demand in states where the virus has run wild in recent weeks including Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where hospitalisations among the unvaccinated are overwhelming the health care system.
White House officials reported recently that federal shipments of the drugs increased five-fold last month to nearly 110,000 doses, with the vast majority going to states with low vaccination rates.
“They are safe, they are free, they keep people out of the hospital and help keep them alive,” said Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith, a senior adviser to the White House’s Covid-19 response team.
The main drug in use is Regeneron’s dual-antibody cocktail, which has been purchased in mass quantities by the US government.
It’s the same drug former President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalised with Covid-19 last October.
Medical experts agreed that the drugs should not be seen as the first line of defence against the virus or a substitute for wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.
with Associated Press
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