Currently, one of promising treatment methods for people who are infected with coronavirus is monoclonal antibody infusion therapy (mo8xnoclo8xnal an8xtibo8xdy in8xfusi8xon th8xera8xpy). Monoclonal antibodies are given intravenously as infusion therapy before patients need hospitalization. There are also monoclonal antibodies available for people who are hospitalized with COVID-19. The antibodies may also be given to certain people exposed to COVID-19 as protection against the virus, including those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants.
What are monoclonal antibodies?
Antibodies are naturally produced by your body to fight off infections. When your body is infected with a new virus such as COVID-19, it does not have the antibodies to fight the virus off. So doctors use monoclonal antibodies (mo8xno8xclon8xal an8xtibo8xdi8xes) to help you fight the virus. Monoclonal antibodies are created in a laboratory. These antibodies can target a particular virus or infection such as COVID-19.
How does monoclonal antibody infusion therapy work?
Monoclonal antibodies are injected intravenously to people diagnosed with COVID-19. This therapy uses COVID-19 antibodies to help a person’s body fight off the infection. Research finds that these antibodies lower the amount of virus in a person’s body. People with lower viral loads have more mild symptoms. Reducing the viral load may help prevent hospitalization and death.
Who should get antibody infusion therapy?
People infected with COVID-19 with symptoms less than 10 days and at risk for severe illness
Monoclonal antibodies are used for people with a positive COVID-19 test and symptoms for 10 days or less. The therapy for COVID-19 works best when given early. This therapy is only recommended for those considered high risk for severe illness.
People exposed to COVID-19 and at risk for severe illness
Some people who are at high risk for severe illness can also be eligible for monoclonal antibody therapy if they are exposed to COVID-19. Antibody therapy is given by an injection or intravenously to prevent COVID-19. People eligible to receive antibody therapy to prevent COVID-19 include those who:
- are not not fully vaccinated;
- are at high risk of exposure to an infected individual if they live in places such as nursing homes or prisons;
- have medical conditions that may not give them full protection from the COVID-19 vaccine. This group includes people who are:
- undergoing chemotherapy or kidney dialysis
- undergoing organ transplants
- taking certain medications
For those at risk of ongoing exposure to COVID-19 or whose immune systems don’t respond to the vaccine, this therapy can be given every four weeks.
What monoclonal antibody infusion therapies for COVID-19 are available?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved emergency use authorization for four antibody infusion therapies:
- A combination of casirivimab and imdevimab
- A combination of etesevimab and bamlanivimab (distribution paused by FDA in June 2021)
Do people still transmit the disease after monoclonal antibody infusion therapy?
Antibody infusion therapy does not completely cure COVID-19. Even after receiving treatment, a person can still transmit the disease to others. It is important to continue self-isolation until:
- 10 or more days have passed since you developed symptoms of COVID-19.
- You are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine such as ibuprofen.
- Your COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
What are the side effects of monoclonal antibody infusion therapy?
People who receive monoclonal antibody treatment may experience pain, skin bruising, or skin swelling at the infusion site.
More serious side effects include:
- Interferes with your body’s ability to fight off a future COVID-19 infection
- Reduces your body’s immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine
After undergoing infusion therapy, you must wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
What are signs of an allergic reaction to monoclonal antibody infusion therapy?
People can have an allergic reaction to monoclonal antibody infusion therapy. This is why you must be monitored at the infusion clinic for one hour after your infusion.
Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of your lips, face, or throat
- Skin rash
- Muscle aches
Studies have shown that some monoclonal antibodies are effective in treating the known viral variants. Mutations of viruses may continue to occur. If you have any questions about the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody infusion therapy against new coronavirus variants, please ask your doctor.