What are monoclonal antibodies?

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What are monoclonal antibodies?

What are monoclonal antibodies and what do they mean in the fight against COVID-19?

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses and bacteria that can cause disease. Currently, there are three monoclonal antibody therapies available for COVID-19 under federal emergency use authorization.

These treatment options are for non-hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients who have mild to moderate symptoms, and who are considered high-risk for severe symptoms and hospitalization. The treatments also can be used to help prevent COVID-19 in these patients.

It is important to receive the treatment as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test result and within 10 days of symptom onset. A provider referral is required.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines high risk as someone who:

  • Is age 65 or older
  • Has a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 35
  • Has chronic kidney disease
  • Has diabetes
  • Has an immunosuppressive disease
  • Currently is receiving immunosuppressive treatment

Other individuals considered at high risk are adults age 55 and older who have one of the following conditions: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or other lung disease.

Additionally, children age 12 to 17 are considered high risk if they have one of the following: a BMI equal to or greater than the 85th percentile for their age and gender, sickle cell disease, heart disease, neurodevelopment disorders, or asthma.

Authorized monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID-19 are Bamlanivimab/Etesevimab, Casirivimab/Imdevimab, and Sotrovimab. These treatments are administered intravenously or under the skin in a medical clinic, infusion center, or hospital. In clinical trials, those who received antibody treatments soon after a COVID-19 diagnosis experienced fewer symptoms and hospitalizations, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is determining each state’s weekly amount of monoclonal antibody products based on COVID-19 cases and monoclonal antibody utilization.

Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if monoclonal antibody treatments are right for you.