RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Monoclonal antibodies are infusion-based therapies used to treat COVID-19 infections. They are being used under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
“We designed antibodies that we can infuse into someone’s blood, and instantaneously there are now antibodies,” said Dr. David Wohl, a professor of infectious disease at the UNC School of Medicine, when explaining what the treatments entail.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported for the week of June 23, just 100 courses of monoclonal antibodies were administered. For the week Aug. 18, that went up to a total of 3,018 courses administered statewide.
That number, a sharp increase from even the week of Aug. 11 when 1,874 courses were used. NCDHHS reported that on average, between Jan. and July, the average was 2,089 per month.
The infusion treatment has its challenges. Patients need to get infusions at specific treatment centers, some of which are referral only. The infusion therapy takes 30 to 60 minutes. The FDA said COVID-19 positive patients need to get there within 10 days of symptoms.
All this trouble is largely avoided through vaccination. Even in rare, breakthrough cases, the vaccines largely keep people out of the hospital.
“There are people who are not willing to get vaccinated because the vaccines are not FDA approved, but they’re willing to take a monoclonal antibody once they’re sick even though that’s not approved,” Wohl said.