LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Samantha Mottet doesn’t remember much from the weeks she fought off COVID-19.
“I was just so tired, I was just sleeping and didn’t even realize how sick [I was],” she said. “I literally just slept constantly.”
The 55-year-old from Seal Beach said she began showing symptoms around mid-March, when she stopped eating and drinking and had a fever. Just over a week after testing positive, she was checked into the UCLA Medical Center.
“My husband said I had been vomiting and having diarrhea and I didn’t even realize,” Mottet said. “That whole week was just a complete blur to me.”
Mottet was on a ventilator in the ICU, where doctors tried two treatments that didn’t work. That’s when her doctor and family approached Dr. Otto Yang, a professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, who is leading a clinical trial of a drug called “leronlimab.”
Researchers are administering the drug to COVID-19 patients across the country as a new potential treatment, and Yang offered Mottet a spot in his trial.
Yang said “leronlimab” is an artifical antibody that works against the second phase of the COVID-19. That’s when the body’s immune system overreacts in response to the virus. It’s administered through an injection under the skin.
“That reaction causes a lot of collateral damage so a lot of the inflammation in the lungs that causes people not to be able to breathe is this collateral damage,” Yang said. “So the idea is that it will reduce the amount of inflammation in the lungs.”
At this point, doctors can’t know for sure whether “leronlimab” is solely responsible for Mottet’s recovery. However, Yang said he believes there is strong evidence to support this theory.
“In 24 hours, she started requiring less oxygen on the ventilators, and 48 hours after that, she was able to come off the ventilator all together,” Yang said. ‘Then a couple of days after that, she didn’t require any oxygen at all.”
“Leronlimab” is currently in the process of being approved by the FDA to treat HIV. Researchers hope it will soon prove useful in fighting coronavirus.
Mottet believes “leronlimab” is the reason she’s going home from the hospital today.
“This coronavirus did really knock me down,” she said. “But the drug, in my opinion, has done a wonderful job bringing me back.”