Monoclonal antibody therapy is an infusion therapy designed to prevent the development of serious to severe symptoms in the most vulnerable COVID-19 patients. MVHS nurse manager of Maternal Child Services, Lesa Steele, says this therapy is only to be used during the first 10 days of contracting COVID, and it shouldn’t be considered an alternative to getting a vaccination.
"I feel the benefits do outweigh the risks when it comes to getting the vaccination. I have seen the risks. I have seen the people gasping for breath. I have seen how quickly they go from talking to you to needing to be intubated," she said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow the therapy’s under an emergency use authorization, which means the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks. It’s the same authorization used for all three COVID-19 vaccinations.
"All of the years and years of FDA approval has not been accomplished, and we don’t have years and years to fight COVID because its killing American’s now," said Steele.
The treatments are relatively new, and underutilized. The medication blocks the virus from entering the cells and prevents full blown COVID infection. The therapy is only recommended for high risk candidates.
"We do need a physician referral because we have to make sure that you meet the criteria, and also we want to make sure that it’s being distributed properly," said Steele. "We don’t want people saying I want to have it and get it."
Therapy must be ordered by a physician for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are 12 years of age or older, weigh at least 88 pounds and are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. High risk is defined as patients who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) ≥35
- Have chronic kidney disease
- Have diabetes
- Have immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are 65 or older
- Are older than 55 years of age and have cardiovascular disease, or hypertension, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory disease
- Are 12 to 17 years of age AND have a BMI ≥85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts; or sickle cell disease; or congenital or acquired heart disease; or neurodevelopmental disorders, such as cerebral palsy; or a medical-related technological dependence, such as tracheostomy gastrostomy or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19); or asthma, reactive airway disease or other chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication for control
These therapies are not authorized for use in patients who:
- Are hospitalized due to COVID-19
- Require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19
- Require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in those on chronic oxygen therapy due to an underlying non-COVID-19-related comorbidity