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Monoclonal Antibodies to The Rescue

February 1, 2021

Remember when President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis hit the news? You may also remember he received a not yet approved treatment using monoclonal antibodies (mAb).

The therapy, though still unproven, is considered by experts to be one of the most promising treatment options for the illness.

Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab to mimic the body's natural antibodies. Antibodies act by recognizing specific germs — in this case, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 — and harnessing the immune system to fight them off. They work like a passive vaccination. Administering these antibodies in the early stages can help high-risk patients avoid a more serious progression.

Patients are eligible for COVID-19 mAb therapy if they have mild to moderate infection and are at high risk for hospitalization.

According to The National Academies’ Washington, as of January 6, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has allocated more than 641,000 COVID-19 mAb therapies to states and territories. However, the available supply far exceeds use for several reasons. Currently, there is limited evidence about the clinical benefit of mAbs, and their safety and efficacy continue to be evaluated in Phase III trials.

The goal of equitable mAb allocation is not to get every eligible patient to accept mAb therapy if it is offered, but to identify the right patients at the right time.

Although mAb therapy is largely administered in the hospital or at stand-alone infusion sites, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Indian Health Service facilities, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities may be able to provide these types of treatments in the future. People already receive routine care in these settings — and often, these facilities have already earned the community’s trust.

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