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UPDATE: As of September 21, 2021, local supply of Monoclonal antibodies is extremely low, and is expected to remain so for two or more weeks. If you are seeking treatment, you will need to go through your health care provider for a referral. Please do not call local treatment providers or go to the emergency department for monoclonal antibody treatment.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19. We know that people who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to get COVID-19, and that the vaccines continue to prove effective in keeping people from getting seriously sick or dying if they catch the virus.
We also know that COVID-19—and especially the delta variant—are still circulating widely in our community. Local case and hospitalization rates are at the highest that they’ve ever been, with unvaccinated people representing the vast majority of these cases. Breakthrough cases (when someone who is fully vaccinated and contracts COVID-19) are also a reality, and in rare circumstances, fully vaccinated folks are still becoming critically ill with the virus.
Thankfully, for certain high risk individuals who do get COVID-19—regardless of vaccination status—there is some good news available.
What are monoclonal antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that help jumpstart your immune system so you can fight off a COVID-19 infection. They can be given by a shot or an IV infusion. Studies show that the treatments successfully fight the virus and prevent serious illness.
Is Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutic Treatment safe?
To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization for several monoclonal antibody treatments. The FDA currently recommends the REGEN-COV™ and Sotrovimab monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.
Just like with any medication, the safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy continues to be evaluated by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19.
Potential side effects of REGEN-COV™ and Sotrovimab include allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, as well as infusion-related reactions, including pain, bruising of the skin, soreness, swelling, and possible infection at the injection site.
Who should get this treatment and when?
Monoclonal antibody therapies can treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 and older (must weigh at least 88 lbs.), who are at high risk for developing severe illness. Some fully vaccinated people may even qualify for antibody treatment if they are in a high-risk category.
Regardless of vaccination status, timing is important. Monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of getting symptoms to work best. Once someone is hospitalized or needs oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, they are no longer eligible to receive monoclonal antibody treatments. Check with your doctor right away to decide if this treatment is right for you.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Do I still need to get vaccinated if this treatment is available?
Monoclonal antibody therapies are not authorized for pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19. These therapies do not replace vaccination against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent against contracting COVID-19 and is recommended by the CDC for everyone 12 years and older.
How are vaccines and monoclonal therapies different?
A vaccine helps stimulate and prepare your immune system to respond if or when you are exposed to COVID-19. Two weeks following your final dose, your immune system is prepped and ready to create antibodies, even before they are needed.
Monoclonal antibodies boost the immune system after you are already sick with COVID-19. The treatment speeds up your immune response to prevent a person’s symptoms from getting worse. Monoclonal antibodies act as guided missiles that target the virus, but protection doesn’t stick around. While monoclonal antibodies are effective for a short period, COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to still offer significant protection months down the road.
While Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutic Treatment is a great option for people who are already sick with the virus and at an increased risk for complications, vaccination is the easiest and most effective option for keeping people safe.
Is this treatment free?
The federal government provides some monoclonal antibody treatments for free. Depending on insurance coverage, some may need to pay an administration fee. This is to cover the costs of giving the treatment, not for the antibodies. As always, check with your insurance provider to learn more about treatment costs for your specific plan, first. For people with Medicare and Medicaid, the cost of administering the treatment should be covered.
Where can I get Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutic Treatment?
Monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy is available in Washington state with a provider’s recommendation for certain high risk individuals. People can be at high risk because of many reasons including their age, having an underlying medical condition, and other things. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Age ≥ 65 years
- Obesity or being overweight based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clinical growth charts
- Chronic kidney disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
- Heart or circulatory conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and possibly high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Chronic lung diseases including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate to severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Sickle cell disease
- Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy
- Having a medical device (for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation [not related to COVID-19])
If you think you might qualify for this treatment, please speak to your healthcare provider first and get a referral before contacting these sites to arrange an appointment. There is limited capacity at certain sites, and it is preferred that individuals contact these facilities over the phone to arrange an appointment time, in order to limit exposure for staff and other patients.
To find a Monoclonal Antibody Therapeutic Treatment location near you, go to: https://bit.ly/3hVhagX.