While experts agree that getting the vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19, we are still researching treatment options if you do, in fact, get sick. This is especially important for those who are at high risk for severe illness. One outpatient treatment that has been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is monoclonal antibodies or mAbs.
What are mAbs?
When we get sick, our body’s immune system does many things to fight the infection or virus. This includes producing antibodies, which circulate the body, attach, and fight the foreign substance or pathogen. Scientists are now able to create antibodies, very similar to the ones your immune systems creates, in the lab that specifically target certain pathogens such as viruses. Known as monoclonal antibodies, the ones specifically designed for COVID-19 may block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for it to reproduce and cause harm. Treatments are given as an intravenous (IV) infusion or injection delivered at a doctor’s office, infusion center or outpatient center.
What kinds of mAbs are there?
The FDA has granted three monoclonal antibody products Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use in non-hospitalized patients. This means that these treatments are available for adults and pediatric patients over the age of 12 who received a positive COVID-19 viral test result and are at high-risk for severe COVID-19. There are different treatment options for patients who are hospitalized or require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19.
MABs currently approved for emergency use are:
- Bamlanivimab and etesevimab, administered together
- Casirivimab and imdevimab (also known as REGEN-COV), administered together
- Sotrovimab (also known as Xevudy)
“The emergency authorization of monoclonal antibodies offers health care providers another tool in combating the pandemic,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We will continue to facilitate the development, evaluation and availability of COVID-19 therapies.”
Who is eligible for mAbs treatment?
Monoclonal antibody treatments are available for patients 12 years of age and older who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe illness and hospitalization. They should especially be considered for high-risk patients, including adults 65 and older, anyone with chronic lung disease or immunocompromised conditions. “Monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID-19 are an important innovation to help treat the disease,” said Albert Rizzo, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association. “Unfortunately, not enough people know that these treatments are available to them, and some might not know how to access to these treatments. That is why it is so important for people who think they are having symptoms of COVID-19 to speak with their health care provider. These monoclonal antibodies work much better the sooner they are started after the infection begins.”
When and where do I get mAb treatment?
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, it’s critical to get tested right away. Treatments, which include monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), should be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 test, and within 10 days of when your symptoms began.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a dedicated call center (1-877-332-6525) to answer questions and provide locations of therapeutic distribution centers. This information is also available on the HHS website.
To learn more about monoclonal antibodies and COVID-19 treatment, visit our treatment page.
Disclaimer: The information in this article was medically reviewed and accurate at the time of posting. Because knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 is constantly evolving, data or insights may have changed. The most recent posts are listed on the EACH Breath blog landing page. You may also visit our COVID-19 section for updated disease information and contact our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for COVID-19 questions.
Blog last updated: November 22, 2021