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What is monoclonal antibody IV therapy?

Chronic Conditions | Wellness | September 23, 2021
Two people receive IV therapy
This may be effective for non-hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients at risk for severe complications from COVID-19.

Monoclonal antibody IV therapy (also known by its brand name REGEN-COV) is a promising treatment for non-hospitalized patients who are at risk for severe complications from COVID-19. The treatment can be used only after infection or exposure to COVID-19, and it is not a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine.

A form of immunotherapy traditionally used for patients with cancer and other diseases, monoclonal antibody treatment has shown to be very effective for patients with mild to moderate symptoms from COVID-19 but a high risk of complications.

The goal of the treatment is to prevent hospitalizations, reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity, said Shaun Harper, MD, Chief Medical Officer of PeaceHealth Medical Group. "Monoclonal antibody therapy has been proven to reduce hospitalizations in about 70 percent of high-risk, COVID-positive patients."

Blocks the virus from spreading in your body

Monoclonal antibodies are immune, lab-produced molecules designed to mimic the body's natural response to infection. The antibodies are made to recognize and bind to a part of the SARS-Co-V2 virus—the so-called spike protein— thus blocking the virus from entering cells and spreading in your body. The treatment is also effective against the delta variant.

Dr. Harper emphasized that the treatment is not a cure and does not provide any long-term immunity. "That's what the vaccine is for," he said. Taking the therapy also does not guarantee one won't become dangerously ill.

Monoclonal antibody therapy received Emergency Use Authorization from the Federal Drug Administration last November for certain groups of non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Patients receive the antibodies through a 20-minute intravenous infusion followed by an hour of observation.

Available only for those at risk of severe COVID-19

Monoclonal antibody treatment is appropriate for patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms or those with known contact with COVID-19 and a high risk of developing serious complications.

It may be given to anyone 65 years of age or older OR anyone age 12 or over who also meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • Cardiovascular disease, including congenital heart disease or hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease, including COPD, moderate to severe asthma, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension
  • BMI above 25, if age 12-17, a BMI greater than the 85th percentile for age and gender as based on CDC growth charts
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pregnant
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Receiving immunosuppressive treatment or have an immunosuppressive disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy or other conditions that confer medical complexity (for example, genetic or metabolic syndromes and severe congenital abnormalities)
  • Medical-related technological dependence, such as tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation

This EUA Fact Sheet for Patients provides more information about monoclonal antibody therapy.

While monoclonal antibodies IV treatment does help some, your best protection against severe COVID-19 is vaccination.

Visit PeaceHealth's coronavirus website to learn more about the safety and efficacy of the available vaccines and how you can get vaccinated.

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