Monoclonal Antibodies for High-Risk, COVID-19-Positive PatientsSep 30, 2021 09:31AM ● By Courtesy of Combat COVID
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, one of the first questions you may have is, What can I do to reduce the risk of getting sicker? The good news is, there are treatments that may reduce that risk. Depending on your age, health history, and how long you’ve had symptoms of COVID-19, you may qualify for a promising form of treatment for the disease. It’s called monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment.
Some early evidence suggests that mAb treatment can reduce the amount of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a person's system. This amount is known as viral load. Having a lower viral load means you may have milder symptoms thereby decreasing the likelihood of you needing to stay in the hospital.
The FDA has issued Emergency Use Authorization for two investigational monoclonal antibody treatments that can attach to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These antibodies could help your immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
These treatments have been authorized for patients with mild to moderate cases. This includes those who have had symptoms for 10 days or less, who are 12 years of age and older, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. It also includes people who are 65 years old or older, and for people who have certain chronic medical conditions.
There is no cost for the antibodies themselves, but the facility may charge for the infusion (giving the treatment by IV). Medicare covers the IV treatment costs, but Medicaid coverage is different in each state. Many large private insurance plans cover all costs, but you should check with yours to find out for sure. If you do not have insurance, ask the treatment facility if there are any fees.
Your body naturally makes antibodies to fight infection. However, your body may not have antibodies designed to recognize a novel (or new) virus like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, are made in a laboratory to fight a particular infection—in this case, SARS-CoV-2—and are given to patients directly with an infusion. That’s why mAb treatment may help patients who are at high risk for serious symptoms or having to stay in the hospital.
mAb treatment for COVID-19 is different from a COVID-19 vaccine. A vaccine triggers your body’s natural immune response, but can take weeks to develop enough antibodies and prevent some kinds of infection. Some vaccines for COVID-19 require two shots, so your body can develop its own immune response to the disease. But if you already have the virus, mAb treatment gives your body the antibodies it needs to protect itself.
Combat COVID is a one-stop resource created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To learn more about mAbs, how they can prevent mild to moderate symptoms from getting worse, and what to expect if you get mAb treatment, visit CombatCovid.hhs.gov. To find locations to receive monoclonal antibody treatments around the entire state, please visit FloridaHealthCovid19.gov.