COVID-19 antibody treatment can make patients feel better in short amount of time, researchers say

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As we continue to try to emerge from the pandemic, there are treatments other than the vaccine that are proving effective. 

Every day, hundreds of people here in North Carolina still get COVID-19, and a lot of people are still dying from it in this state. 

For those who haven’t been vaccinated and get the virus, there are medical ways to fight it if you meet certain criteria. 

It’s called monoclonal antibody treatment. 

The antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as the COVID-19 virus. 

Here’s how they work. 

“Monoclonal antibodies stick to the part of the spike protein that represents the part that binds to the human cell and lets the virus get inside,” said Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH. “So you cover that (spike protein) up and the virus has nowhere to go.” 

The FDA approved the treatment for Regeneron’s Monoclonal Antibodies under its Emergency Use Authorization for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 or older.

You may have seen TV ads by Regeneron pushing the therapy, but as the ad says, you can’t just get it off the shelf – a doctor has to authorize it if you meet certain criteria. 

Those who are eligible are defined as high-risk patients: 

  • Older age (65 or older)
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Chronic conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, COPD, chronic kidney disease or diabetes
  • Healthcare providers may consider other factors (pregnancy, smokers, disabilities) to assess whether a patient is high-risk

The antibodies are given via intravenous infusion and take a couple of hours to administer. 

“It’s not a cure, but it’s an incredible therapy,” Maulik Joshi of Meritus Health told CBS News.

The earlier you get the treatments, the more likely you are to recover without hospitalization, and doctors they’ve seen results quickly. 

“We hear from people they feel better in hours, if not just a day,” said Joshi. 

Generally, Medicare will pay for those treatments.

Even if you are treated with those antibodies and recover from the virus, doctors say you still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

They recommend you wait three months after the antibody therapy before you get your shot. 

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