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With COVID-19 cases soaring in the U.S., we’re seeing an uptick in serious illness and hospitalizations. At AdventHealth, we use monoclonal antibody infusions to treat non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients to keep symptoms from worsening. The hope is to prevent the need for hospitalization or intubation in the ICU.
The medicine is called Regeneron, or REGEN-COV, which consists of two monoclonal antibodies. Read on to learn about this kind of treatment, how it works, when it’s most useful and who can benefit.
What are Monoclonal Antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight COVID-19.
“An antibody is what your body makes when something comes in foreign, basically to knock off whatever it is. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic — they’re made,” says Dr. Michael Cacciatore, a Chief Medical Officer of AdventHealth Medical Group.
How do Monoclonal Antibodies Work?
Monoclonal antibodies are made in laboratories to help prevent infection. Dr. Cacciatore explains, “These monoclonal antibodies actually bind to the protein, block it and stop the virus from attaching to your cells. Therefore, they can’t reproduce.”
Since our immune system relies on antibodies to detect and destroy harmful substances like viruses, monoclonal antibodies are doing the same thing but in a more controlled way, flagging and blocking harmful infections from entering our cells — COVID-19, in this case.
What Are the Treatments Like?
Our monoclonal antibody treatments of REGEN-COV are given by intravenous infusion (through your veins). It’s an outpatient procedure for patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of developing a more serious case of coronavirus. It should be given as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 test, or within ten days of developing symptoms.
We currently have one monoclonal antibody clinic in Hendersonville located just across from the hospital campus. You have to be referred by a physician in order to receive this treatment.
Who is Eligible for Monoclonal Antibody Treatments?
Dr. Cacciatore and Dr. Eduardo Oliveira , a Medical Director of Critical Care Services for AdventHealth Medical Group, explained the criteria for being treated with REGEN-COV. It should be used for patients 12 and older with an active, mild-to-moderate COVID-19 case, who are at risk of progressing to a severe case that would lead to hospitalization. This includes anyone with the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung disease
- High blood pressure
- Immunosuppressive disease or treatment
- Medical-related technological dependence
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Older age (65 and older)
- Sickle cell disease
- Other medical conditions or factors such as race or ethnicity
If you think you or a loved one might be a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatments, talk to your physician . If your doctor thinks you’re at risk of progressing, you should be referred immediately and start the infusion as soon as possible. The sooner the antibodies can be infused, the better your immune system’s ability to stop the virus from replicating.
For more information on these treatments or anything related to COVID-19, check out our Coronavirus Resource Hub. We’re here to help your family navigate your health at every age and stage.