COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
At this time, the number of monoclonal antibody treatments available is very limited because the medications used are in short supply across the country. You may not be able to find an appointment, even if you qualify.
Do I qualify for monoclonal antibody therapy?
You may qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment if you've tested positive for COVID-19 and it has been 7 days or less since your symptoms first started. Monoclonal antibody treatment is most effective when given early and the sooner it is given the better. Talk to a doctor or healthcare provider to see if this treatment may be right for you.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent COVID-19. Monoclonal antibody treatment should NOT be used to prevent COVID-19. It’s not something to just help you feel better or manage symptoms. People who might benefit the most from this treatment are those who are most likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19.
Talk to your doctor or use our self-assessment tool to find out if you would likely benefit from mAb therapy. You may also call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-456-7707 (Monday - Friday, 7am-7pm, Saturday, 8am-4pm, Closed Sunday) to find an infusion site near you.
Does monoclonal antibody therapy work against the Omicron variant?
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about other potential treatments if you don’t qualify for monoclonal antibody therapy. You may be able to get a prescription for an antiviral pill.
What is monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb)?
Our bodies naturally make antibodies to fight infection. Monoclonal antibodies are like the antibodies your body makes to fight other viruses, but they are made in a lab and are designed to target the coronavirus spike protein. When the antibodies bind to the spike protein, they block the virus from entering your body’s cells. This keeps the virus from spreading to more of your cells and can help those who are at higher-risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19.
Vaccines prevent illness by triggering your body’s natural immune response. Within a few weeks of getting a vaccine, your body creates enough antibodies to prevent infections. Monoclonal antibody therapy is different from a COVID-19 vaccine. If you already have the virus and are at higher-risk, mAb treatment can give you the antibodies your body needs to protect itself from severe illness — so you don’t end up in the hospital.
Monoclonal antibodies are given to people through an intravenous (IV) infusion. These infusions are usually given in an outpatient infusion center. You will be at the infusion center for about 2 hours for the treatment. It takes about an hour for you to get all of the medicine through the infusion and then a healthcare worker will need to monitor you for any side effects for another hour.
Learn more about monoclonal antibody treatment.
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Does monoclonal antibody therapy help everyone who has COVID-19?
No. Monoclonal antibody treatments is most effective for people 65 and older and people who have certain health conditions that put them at higher-risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. To quality for mAb therapy, you must:
- Test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
- Currently have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Be within the first 7 days of symptom onset.
- Be at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to things like age or underlying medical conditions.
Getting COVID-19 during pregnancy can be very dangerous for both mother and baby. Symptoms often get worse and can turn severe very quickly. There is no evidence to suggest that mAb therapy will harm the mother or baby. The Utah Department of Health strongly recommends mAb therapy for women who are pregnant, unvaccinated, and test positive for COVID-19.
Studies show mAb treatments can lower the amount of virus (called a viral load) that causes COVID-19 in your body, which can help prevent severe symptoms and illness. In clinical trials, this treatment resulted in a 70% reduction in risk for hospitalization and death. Monoclonal antibody treatments are effective at keeping people out of the hospital, but don’t help people as much once they are sick enough with COVID-19 to be admitted into the hospital. It only works if you get treated within 7 days after first having symptoms of COVID-19 and testing positive. That’s why it’s so important to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as you can after your symptoms start.
Can I get monoclonal antibody therapy before I have COVID-19?
There is only one monoclonal antibody therapy, called Evusheld, that is authorized for pre-exposure prophylaxis in the U.S. right now. Pre-exposure prophylaxis means the therapy is given to someone before they are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 and before they test positive. Evusheld is only available for people with specific health problems which make them at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These people are severely immunocompromised and unlikely to have a strong immune response after COVID-19 vaccination. They may also be unable to have a COVID-19 vaccination because they’ve had severe allergic reactions to ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines. Evusheld is a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies and is given as an injection into your body.
You must talk to your doctor or primary care specialist about whether you meet the qualifications for Evusheld based on your medical history. You must have a referral and prescription from your doctor to get it.
Can children get monoclonal antibody therapy?
Children are less likely to benefit from mAb therapy than adults because they have a lower risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19.
Talk to your child’s medical provider or specialist (immunologist, oncologist, etc.) to see if mAb will be safe and effective for your child. Medical providers who have questions or who determine mAb would be beneficial for your child should send an email to Pediatric.MonoclonalAntibodies@imail.org to arrange treatment.
The best way to protect children from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Children 5 years and older are eligible to get vaccinated right now.
Where can I get monoclonal antibody therapy?
There are mAb treatment locations across the state of Utah. Many of these locations are at hospitals or outpatient clinics.
You must qualify or have a doctor’s referral to get mAb treatment. DO NOT show up to a treatment location without an appointment. You will be turned away.
Talk to a doctor to see if you qualify for mAb and to find a treatment center near you. You can also call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-456-7707 (Monday - Friday, 7am-7pm, Saturday, 8am-4pm, Closed Sunday) for more information.
Is monoclonal antibody therapy safe?
The FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of mAb, which means it has been proven safe and effective for certain people. The FDA and CDC have recommendations for who should get mAb treatment. Researchers are still studying it for safety and effectiveness in other groups of people. More than 400,000 people have already been treated with monoclonal antibodies.
What are the side effects of monoclonal antibody therapy?
All medications and medical treatments have side effects. Talk to a doctor or the healthcare provider giving you these medicines if you are worried about side effects and what to watch for.
The most common side effects of mAb therapy are:
- Pain, bleeding, swelling, or bruising at the injection site (or place where the needle is put into your arm for the infusion)
- Infection at the injection site
- Feeling sick to your stomach (nausea)
- High blood sugar (called hyperglycemia)
Although it’s rare, there is a risk of anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) or other infusion-related reactions when you get mAb therapy. In clinical trials of bamlanivimab and casirivimab/imdevimab with nearly 3,000 people, two severe allergic reactions and five serious reactions related to the delivery of the treatment into the vein were reported. These reactions were treated and the patients recovered.
Should I get monoclonal antibody therapy if I tested positive for COVID-19, but am not feeling sick yet?
Monoclonal antibody therapy is most effective in the first 7 days after your symptoms start. You need to be treated as early as possible after you become infected with the virus. So, the sooner the better — even if you're not feeling that bad yet.
COVID-19 is very dangerous to certain people because the disease often gets worse very quickly for those whose age, health conditions, or work or living environment (like those who live in a long-term care facility) put them at higher-risk.
As medical experts have studied mAb therapy, data shows that treatment keeps people who are at higher-risk from severe COVID-19 out of the hospital — in cases that normally may have ended up needing hospitalization. When those at higher-risk were treated early— before their symptoms were severe — the treatment was able to stop the disease from getting worse, and fewer patients needed to be hospitalized. Antibody treatment was not as effective if people waited until their symptoms were bad or getting worse.
How much does monoclonal antibody therapy cost?
If you have health insurance, these costs may be covered by the insurance company. Medicare and Medicaid both cover the cost for infusion administration. Costs will vary based on what type of plan you have. You may face potentially high deductibles or copays depending on your insurance plan.
Ask your insurance company or the doctor who is giving you this medicine about potential costs before you go to your appointment so you know what to expect.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get treatment?
You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to get mAb therapy. You may be asked to show a photo ID or other identification to make sure the right person gets the treatment. This information is not shared with immigration officials or used to determine who would benefit from this treatment.
How long do I need to wait after having monoclonal antibody therapy to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC no longer recommends waiting at least 90 days after getting mAb therapy before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you had a different type of antibody therapy that wasn’t for COVID-19 (such as intravenous immunoglobulin or RhoGAM), you don’t need to wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine.