Monoclonal antibodies are effective COVID-19 treatment, not substitute for vaccination

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 7:50 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - With local COVID-19 cases on the rise the past month according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people may be turning to monoclonal antibody treatments for the virus.

Doctors, however, stress patients should not rely solely on them.

Prevea Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Johnson said monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that help the body fight COVID-19.

“They’re indicated when you have mild to moderate illness and you have risk factors for severe illness such as age, heart problems, lung problems, diabetes or kidney problems,” he said.

Johnson said receiving the treatment within 10 days of the onset of symptoms can reduce the risk of hospitalization by half.

He added he only has a limited supply of the treatment, which is administered through IV infusion.

“We do have to look at our doses and then we have look at all the patients who might be eligible for it and we pick the ones that are most likely to be severely ill and they’re the ones who are going to get it on a given day,” Johnson said.

Johnson, along with Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese and Mayo Clinic Health System pharmacist Richard Arndt, said vaccination is the best medical treatment for COVID-19.

“Monoclonal antibodies are a great help but they don’t support someone when they get exposed to immediately start fighting off COVID-19,” Giese said.

“They are a pathway to help reduce the symptoms and the progression of the patient’s disease state,” Arndt said. “However, they are not a long-term solution in order to prevent COVID-19 infection rates and progression.”

“The first thing you want to do is to not get the virus at all and the best way to do that is isolation and vaccine,” Johnson said.

Giese said those who are fully vaccinated are 11 times more likely to avoid hospitalization for COVID-19.

Both Johnson and Arndt said people can receive monoclonal antibodies regardless of vaccination status.

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