MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES FOR HIGH-RISK COVID-19 POSITIVE PATIENTS
If you have COVID-19, you may be at high-risk of your symptoms getting worse. Based on your age, the length of your symptoms, and some medical conditions, you may be eligible for certain treatment or qualify for clinical studies.
WHAT IS A MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY?
Our bodies naturally make antibodies to fight infection. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a laboratory and are given to patients directly through an infusion. These treatments may help patients who are at high risk for severe illness avoid hospitalization and/or disease progression.
COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments are different from COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines provide active immunity by triggering the body’s natural immune response. Vaccines often require two shots and time for the body to able to develop this immune response. When you have the virus, monoclonal antibody treatments give the antibodies that the body needs to protect itself.
AM I A CANDIDATE FOR TREATMENT?
The FDA has authorized two monoclonal antibody treatments for emergency use bamlanivimab, casirivimab and imdevimab. These treatments could help the immune system respond more effectively to the virus. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if you're a candidate for treatment.
Monoclonal antibody treatments have been authorized by the FDA for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last ten days, who are 12 years of age and older, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.
This also includes people who are 65 years of age or older or who have certain chronic medical conditions.
Over 600,000 monoclonal antibodies have been distributed to healthcare facilities, nationwide.
DID YOU KNOW...
You're eligible to be treated with the monoclonal antibody if you are:
- 65 years of age or older
- 55 years or older with:
- Heart disease
- OR high blood pressure
- OR COPD/chronic respiratory disease, including asthma.
- Any age with:
- Obesity (a body mass index [BMI] of 35 or higher)
- OR diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2)
- OR chronic kidney disease
- OR a weakened immune system
- OR you're taking medicine that weakens your immune system.
Your child is eligible to be treated with the monoclonal antibody if he or she is:
- 12 to 17 years of age and at least 40 kg (88 pounds) with:
- Obesity (a BMI greater than or equal to 85 percent of patients of the same age and gender)
- OR regularly uses medical technology such as a ventilator or feeding tube
- OR have a developmental condition like cerebral palsy
- OR sickle cell disease
- OR congenital or acquired heart disease
- OR asthma/chronic respiratory problems requiring daily medication for control.
How Can I Get Monoclonal Antibodies?
Patients who have had symptoms for 10 days or less should be referred for treatment by their healthcare providers and directed to available infusion locations.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM TREATMENT (INFUSION)?
The treatment with monoclonal antibodies (MABs) requires an outpatient visit to a location where it is administered. As the treatments directly combat the virus, the MAB therapy is administered via an intravenous (IV) infusion. After completing all necessary screening, highly trained medical staff will start an IV where the MAB therapy is slowly delivered in just over an hour. After this infusion, the medical staff will have you remain for another hour to ensure you are not having any sort of allergic reaction or side effects. These reactions are rare, but the staff must observe you for this hour. Once this observation hour ends, you will be released to go home.
While your healthcare provider may give you specific guidance, it is important to know that although you may start feeling better, you could still spread the virus for a period of time. Therefore, you must remain in isolation until each of the following conditions are reached: 10 days after symptoms first appeared, at least 24 hours of no fever without fever-reducing medication, and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. However, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions even if they exceed these criteria, as your personal medical condition may require additional criteria. Also, if you start to feel worse, do not hesitate to seek medical care.
CAN ANTIBODY TREATMENT MAKE ME SICK?
Antibody treatments don’t contain any live SARS-CoV-2. However, there are possible side effects to antibody treatment:
- Allergic reactions can happen during and after an antibody infusion treatment. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following signs and symptoms of allergic reactions: fever; chills; nausea; headache; shortness of breath; low blood pressure; wheezing; swelling of your lips, face, or throat; rash, including hives; itching; muscle aches; and dizziness.
- Receiving an infusion of any medicine may cause brief pain, bleeding, bruising of the skin, soreness, swelling, and possible infection at the infusion site.
These are not all the possible side effects of antibody treatment. Serious and unexpected side effects may happen. Treatments authorized for emergency use by FDA are still being studied, so it's possible that all the risks aren't known yet.
Antibody treatments could possibly interfere with your body's ability to fight off a future infection of SARS-CoV-2. Similarly, antibody treatment may reduce your body’s immune response to a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. Studies will be conducted to evaluate these possible risks. If you have any questions, please talk with your healthcare provider.
WHO PAYS FOR ANTIBODY TREATMENT?
The federal government is currently distributing monoclonal antibodies treatments at no cost for patients. However, depending on where you receive treatment, there may be some associated costs for administering the treatment. If you have insurance, these costs may be covered. If you do not have insurance, ask the treatment facility if there will be costs associated with receiving the treatment. If you are on Medicare, you should not have to pay any costs for getting the treatment.