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With COVID-19 cases surging across the country, more doctors are relying on monoclonal antibody treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for three types of monoclonal antibody treatment for individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at high risk of getting very sick.
While the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19, treatment with monoclonal antibodies can help ease symptoms and lessen the chance of severe illness and hospitalization for those who contract the virus, or are exposed to it.
Earlier in the pandemic, the treatment had gone underused, mostly because it had to be given via intravenous infusion, which was difficult to administer for many hospitals and clinics. Now, monoclonal antibody treatment can also be administered by injection, with a drug called REGEN-COV (made by Regeneron).
Monoclonal antibody treatment mimics the antibodies the immune system naturally produces to fight the coronavirus. By fighting the virus’s ability to bind to our cells, the body builds rapid immunity to COVID-19, improving symptoms and preventing the disease from worsening.
When administered early in the course of illness, monoclonal antibody treatment can give you a temporary boost to help prevent serious infection from COVID-19 and ease symptoms. Antibodies should be started promptly to have the best effect, preferably as soon as a COVID-19 test comes back positive. The idea is to stop the virus before it becomes a problem.
Some evidence also suggests that the treatment may be able to prevent the disease entirely in certain people who are exposed to the virus. The FDA recently expanded its EUA for REGEN-COV to help prevent COVID-19 in certain high-risk individuals, including people who were exposed to the virus and are unvaccinated or may not be able to mount an adequate immune response.
More than 600,000 people in the U.S. have already received monoclonal antibody treatment. In clinical trials, the Regeneron monoclonal antibody drug treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 70 percent. The treatment also shortened the duration of COVID-19 symptoms by four days.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and would like to receive monoclonal antibody treatment, the earlier you get it, the better. COVID-19 can progress quickly, and the effectiveness of antibody treatment is highest the earlier it is given. Prompt testing and prompt treatment are key.
Let your doctor know if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus. Your doctor can help you determine if you would benefit from monoclonal antibody treatment. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
If you receive monoclonal antibody treatment and have not yet been vaccinated, you need to wait 90 days before you can receive your first dose of a vaccine. If you have received your first dose of a two-dose of vaccine and require monoclonal antibody treatment before your second dose of vaccine, you also need to wait 90 days before your second vaccine dose.
At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we are administering monoclonal antibody treatment to certain patients who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, and some immunocompromised and unvaccinated individuals who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and meet the criteria for treatment (are over age 65 or have medical conditions that place them at higher risk for severe infection).
Your primary care physician can submit an order for monoclonal antibody treatment to be scheduled at either our Hinsdale or Bolingbrook locations. Antibody treatment is also available at any of our Immediate Care Centers should you have a positive COVID-19 test during your visit.
Vaccination is still the best option for preventing COVID-19. Edward-Elmhurst Health now has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to ages 12 and older. It is easy to schedule a vaccine appointment. You no longer need a MyChart account. Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine now.
The information in this article may change at any time due to the changing landscape of this pandemic. Read the latest on COVID-19.
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