09:22 AM

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Offers First Ever COVID-19 Treatment to Manage Mild Symptoms

Thanks to proactive treatment, monoclonal antibodies minimize hospitalizations and improve patient outcomes.

A new treatment offers high-risk patients confirmed to have COVID-19 a chance to prevent severe sickness and consequently hospitalization.

Monoclonal antibody treatment – which received Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA in Nov. 2020 – is a one-time infusion of antibodies to high-risk patients available upon physician referral. What makes this treatment so unique is its ability to treat mild symptoms for patients most at risk, reducing the likelihood of later hospitalization and emergency room visits.

Through a federal allotment, Carilion began offering the monoclonal antibody treatment in Dec. 2020 at various outpatient infusion sites.

“This is the first time we’ve had a proactive treatment for high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms,” said Dr. Dorothy Garner, interim Chief of Infectious Diseases for Carilion. “Prior to this, the only available treatments for COVID-19 patients were for the sickest of the sick. Monoclonal antibodies give us the opportunity to treat the most vulnerable early in the virus progression, keeping patients out of the hospital in the first place.”

Unlike convalescent plasma treatment (which uses antibodies from donated plasma and has only been shown to be effective in the inpatient, acute-care setting), monoclonal antibodies are designed and manufactured in a laboratory and are most effective in battling early symptoms.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is for high-risk patients who have received a positive COVID-19 test result (antigen or PCR), have mild to moderate symptoms of less than or equal to 10 days duration. Risk factors include patients with a BMI of 35 and above, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment, or age 65 and above, or age 55 and above with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory diseases.

“For monoclonal antibodies to be effective, it’s critical that high-risk patients get tested early for COVID-19,” said Dr. Garner. “Once you develop symptoms, there’s a three- to five-day window in which the treatment will be most effective. If we receive a referral 10 days after symptom onset, the treatment’s efficacy greatly drops, and the patient will no longer be eligible.”

Physician referral is required to receive treatment. Patients must contact their primary care provider to inquire about treatment (non-Carilion providers can also make referrals). Patients and providers may visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus#monoclonal-antibody-treatments for more information and call Carilion at 800-765-3506 or 540-981-7000 with questions.