COVID-19 antibody treatment tests underway in Raleigh, Fayetteville


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Clinical trials in Raleigh and Fayetteville are testing a treatment that doctors hope will prevent or lessen the severity of COVID-19 for people who’ve been exposed to the illness.

When someone in a household comes down with COVID-19, it can be difficult for others to avoid exposure. Wayne Harper is a consulting physician for Wake Research, which is conducting the clinical trials.

“We know that the risk to family members is very high — in some studies up to 38 percent,” he said. “Which means the spouses, the children, other family members are very highly likely to get COVID-19.”

Wake Research is testing a monoclonal antibody treatment at locations in Raleigh and Fayetteville.

“These antibodies will block the virus from entering our cells,” Harper said. “If they work well, they will deactivate the virus that the people are exposed to in the household and will either prevent the disease altogether, or they will stall the virus from entering or replicating in the cells and the disease will be much less severe.”

The treatment is not meant to replace a vaccine. It works differently.

“The problem with a vaccine is it takes a good two weeks to build up some immunity from the vaccine, so giving a vaccine to a person who is already infected will not save them from a worsening case,” Harper said.

The monoclonal antibody treatment is expected to work much more quickly, but doctors said the protection will not last as long as a vaccine.

“When you give people passive antibodies, they are only protected for a short time, probably about a month,” Harper said.

People exposed to the virus must call quickly to participate in the trial.

“Ninety-six hours from the time that family member has been diagnosed,” said Aubrey Farray, clinical director at Wake Research.

Half of the people in the trial will receive the drug. The other half will receive a placebo. Doctors will ask patients to keep track of any symptoms and they will monitor participants to determine whether the drug is safe and effective.

Participants could receive up to $3,250 for time and travel. If someone in your house has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and you’d like to participate in the trial, call Wake Research at 919-781-2514 within 96 hours.

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