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What is a monoclonal antibody infusion and do I qualify for it?

  • Category: Coronavirus
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  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
What is a monoclonal antibody infusion and do I qualify for it?

You may have heard about monoclonal antibody infusions, but what are they, who qualifies for them and how can they help you if you are diagnosed with COVID?

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. You naturally make antibodies to fight infections, but your body may not have antibodies designed to recognize a novel (or new) virus like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike the COVID-19 vaccine, which can take two doses and weeks to help your body develop enough antibodies to prevent an infection, monoclonal antibody treatments quickly give your body the antibodies it needs to protect against an active infection.

These infusions can help patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are at risk of developing a severe case of the illness. Early clinical trials have shown that this treatment may reduce the need for hospitalization and severe illness. Allergic reactions can happen during and after an antibody infusion, including fever, chills, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, wheezing, swelling or a rash, itching, muscle aches, or dizziness. Other risks to consider are that the antibody infusion can interfere with your body’s ability to fight off a future infection of COVID-19 or may reduce your body’s immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Before you can receive a monoclonal antibody infusion, you must be screened by your doctor or health care provider to make sure you meet the requirements for getting this treatment. Your physician will then refer you to one of our locations and an appointment will be scheduled for you. Baton Rouge General is administering the REGEN-COV IV infusion made up of the drugs casirivimab and imdevimab administered together. The infusion appointment usually takes about 2 hours for treatment and observation.

In order for this treatment to be impactful, it must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms. Monoclonal antibody infusions were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA and are recommended for adults and pediatric patients (12 or older) who meet one of the following criteria:

  • 65 years old or older
  • Have a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2, or if age 12-17, have BMI above the 85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts
  • Currently Pregnant
  • Positive COVID test within previous 7 days
  • Have a medical condition, including:
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Cardiovascular disease (including congenital heart disease, hypertension)
    • Diabetes
    • Down syndrome
    • Dementia
    • Liver disease
    • Chronic lung disease
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
  • Current or former smoker
  • History of stroke or cerebrovascular disease
  • Current or history of substance abuse
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders or other conditions that confer medical complexity
  • Have a medical-related technological dependence (e.g., tracheostomy, gastrostomy)

To learn more about monoclonal antibody infusions or to see if you qualify, talk to your doctor.