With all that is happening in the world, getting a positive COVID-19 test is scary, especially if you begin to feel symptoms. But thanks to developments in medical science, there is an infusion treatment for positive COVID-19 patients who experience symptoms, called a monoclonal antibody infusion. Read on to find out what it is, if you are eligible, and more!
What are Monoclonal Antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies are a form of treatment to help battle a viral infection in a person. Currently, monoclonal antibodies are being used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 infections, which is the disease that comes from the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Monoclonal antibodies are produced like medication. They work to help the infected person, sometimes called “the host,” to fight the illness. However, unlike many antiviral or antibiotic medications, monoclonal antibodies are given through an infusion instead of an oral medication.
They work similarly to other medications but have some differences in basic functions and ingestion into the body.
How Do Monoclonal Antibodies Work?
Monoclonal antibodies enter the infected person through infusion, meaning that the monoclonal antibodies are entering into the persons' bloodstream. Once they are infused into the bloodstream of the host, they begin to track down the cells carrying the COVID-19 virus.
The COVID-19 virus attaches a protein onto cells in the host's body, causing the cells to become infected. This protein spike is what the immune system looks for when it is fighting COVID-19. This protein spike is also what the monoclonal antibodies are searching for.
When the monoclonal antibody cells locate a cell that is displaying the protein spike, they begin to block the virus's ability to enter into other cells in your body. Because the monoclonal antibodies slow the rate of infection to other cells in your body, it lowers the viral load in your body and generally slows your overall infection rate.
How Effective are Monoclonal Antibodies?
Although this research and treatment is a newer and more experimental treatment, the early clinical data shows scientists and doctors very promising data. The clinical data shows that monoclonal antibody infusions can successfully lower the rate of COVID-19 related hospitalizations.
However, monoclonal antibody infusions have not yet been determined as to whether or not they will be as successful in future COVID-19 mutations and infections. If monoclonal antibody infusion treatments as they currently are do not perform well with new mutations and infections, then some more experiments will probably be done to see what needs to happen to fight the new infections.
Who is Eligible for Monoclonal Antibody Treatments?
There are several criteria you must meet to be considered eligible for the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment. These criteria are as follows:
- You must have tested positive (PCR test or antigen test) for COVID-19, AND:
- Must have experienced mild to moderate symptoms for one week (7 days) or less (you must be symptomatic still) AND:
- Be age ≥ 65 years OR
- Be age 12 or older AND weigh a minimum of 40 kg with at least one of the following:
- Have a BMI of > 25 kg/m2, or if ages 12 to 17 have a BMI ≥85th percentile for your age group and gender based on the current CDC growth charts
- Be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease
- Have a cardiovascular disease (includes hypertension and congenital heart disease,)
- Down syndrome
- Liver disease
- Former or current smokers
- History of or current substance abuse problems
- Immunosuppressive diseases or undergoing immunosuppressive treatments
- History of cerebrovascular disease or stroke
- Chronic lung disease
- Sickle cell disease
- A neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy
- A medical-related reliance on technology such as a tracheostomy or gastrostomy
If you think that you may be eligible for a monoclonal antibody infusion treatment for your COVID-19 infection, contact your doctor to confirm. It is best to have a medical professional who knows your medical history guide you through your medical diagnoses to accurately confirm your eligibility.
You may find yourself eligible from the criteria above, but your doctor might be able to either confirm you are eligible or explain why you are not eligible.
When are Monoclonal Antibodies Given?
Monoclonal antibodies have a highly specific window where they must be administered to have maximum effect and higher success rates.
Once you receive your positive COVID-19 test and you begin to experience COVID-19 symptoms, you have 7 days to get the monoclonal antibody infusion treatments. You may test positive for COVID-19 and experience no symptoms, but that does not make you eligible for the monoclonal antibody infusion treatment.
Monoclonal antibody treatments are specifically for people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, high fever, flu-like symptoms, and more.
How Long Does a Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Take?
The infusion itself is short and does not require multiple visits to your medical care provider. The infusion takes only 30 brief minutes to complete. You should set aside at least an hour for your infusion treatment as the medical staff on hand will ask that you remain on the premises for at least 30 minutes after you receive the infusion to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction to the infusion, such as an allergic reaction.
All in all, about an hour, is the typical time it takes from start to finish for a monoclonal antibody infusion, but the infusion itself is only 30 minutes.
What are the Side Effects of Monoclonal Antibodies?
There are several side effects that you may experience after getting a monoclonal antibody treatment. These include the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Slowed heart rate
- Tiredness or fatigue
These side effects are short-term. Some people experience them and others do not. If you do experience side effects, remember that they are short-term. Contact your medical care provider if they are not short-term or you begin to feel concerned about what you are feeling.
Can I Get A COVID-19 Vaccine if I have had an Antibody Treatment?
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine after getting an antibody treatment, although you need to wait at least 90 days between the day of your infusion and the day of your vaccine appointment.
Can I Get an Antibody Infusion if I had the COVID-19 Vaccine?
If you received one dose, two doses, or your booster vaccine and you are eligible per the criteria listed above, then yes, you can receive this treatment.
Consult with your doctor before getting a monoclonal antibody treatment just to be sure. Stay healthy!