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Understanding Monoclonal Antibodies Treatment for COVID-19

CLEVELAND – Cleaveland Clinic News -- September 10, 2021 More hospitals are starting to offer monoclonal antibodies to help

treat COVID-19, but how exactly does the therapy work?

“What it can theoretically do is if someone is exposed to the virus, these antibodies can block that person from actually having the infection. Or, if someone has already been infected, it helps with the infection – as long as you get it in early enough – from spreading,” explained Adarsh Bhimraj, MD, infectious disease specialist for Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Bhimraj said monoclonal antibodies are typically given through an IV or injection.

Right now, only certain individuals qualify for the treatment. This includes adults and children over the age of 12 who have a mild-to-moderate case of COVID-19 and are at high risk for progressing to more severe symptoms.

This also includes anyone who is 65 years and older and has certain chronic medical conditions.

Dr. Bhimraj said while monoclonal antibodies can be an effective form of treatment, it is not a replacement for the vaccine.

“Vaccines make your own body develop immunity and it’s not just antibodies. It affects your T-cells. There’s multiple ways it actually stimulates your body to develop immunity, which is way more lasting,” he said.

According to the FDA, all of the monoclonal antibody therapies currently available in the United States were given emergency use authorization, which is why not everyone is eligible for the treatment.

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