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Who should get monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19?

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Saint Michael's Press Office
Who should get monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19?

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for a monoclonal antibody treatment that can help the body fight the coronavirus before it can do serious damage.

Monoclonal antibodies, which were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November, are proteins created in a laboratory that are designed to mimic the human immune system.

Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab was approved by the FDA on Nov. 9 as an experimental drug for use in people aged 12 and older who are high risk but have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms not requiring hospitalization.

The other, called REGN-COV2 and developed by Regeneron, is a cocktail of two drugs combined, casirivimab and imdevimab. It received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Nov. 21.

Both treatments are available at Saint Michael’s Medical Center on an outpatient basis to those who are at high risk of getting very sick or of needing to be admitted to a hospital.

“These are a type of neutralizing monoclonal antibody, which means that it is an antibody that targets, binds and directly blocks the virus which causes COVID-19 from entering and infecting human cells,” said Dr. Hamid Shaaban, the chief medical officer of Saint Michael’s Medical Center.

Dr. Shaaban said the one-time intravenous treatment may prevent progression to more severe disease.

“Studies indicate, however, it is not of benefit to patients once they become hospitalized,” Dr. Shaaban said. “Early diagnosis and treatment with this antibody in high risk patients can prevent hospitalization, severe pneumonia and potentially fatal outcomes.”

Monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of symptom onset, according to the FDA screening criteria. Anyone over 65 who has tested positive for COVID-19 is eligible to receive the treatment. The infusion treatment takes about an hour with another hour for observation.

Patients under under 65 with COVID-19 may be eligible if they suffer from certain chronic health conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, immunocompromised states and chronic lung conditions.

“We encourage patients who tested positive for COVID-19 to talk to their doctors to see if they meet the criteria for treatment,” Dr. Shaaban said. “We want people to know this lifesaving therapy is available at Saint Michael’s.”

For more information about whether you qualify for the treatment, email Saint Michael's at smnjcovidrx@primehealthcare.com.