Baylor Scott & White physicians discuss benefits and science behind monoclonal antibody treatments

Monoclonal antibodies can be given through an IV or injections.
Monoclonal antibodies can be given through an IV or injections.(N/A)
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - As active coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the virus continue to decline, experts are learning more about the virus daily. Local experts are touting the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody infusion treatments for COVID-19.

Along with increasing vaccination rates, physicians with Baylor Scott & White attribute monoclonal antibody treatments as part of the decline in hospitalizations and deaths. Experts say at earlier points in the pandemic, those who received a positive COVID diagnosis reacted passively by quarantining at home. Experts say once you have tested positive and desire to take monoclonal antibody treatment, it is vital that you seek treatment within 10 days of symptoms to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

A COVID-19 antibody infusion center opened in College Station at the end of September. Those with COVID-19 can seek treatment with a doctor’s referral. The facility is open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the St. Joseph Urgent Care located at 4411 Highway 6 S.

As we enter winter weather and flu seasons, the threat of variants is possible. Doctors are encouraging people that display symptoms of COVID-19 not to wait for symptoms to worsen.

“It is important to know what therapies work best at what stage of the disease,” said Dr. Robert Gottlieb, M.D., lead physician for the COVID-19 therapeutic response for the Baylor Scott and White Health System. “For patients that are at risk for progression, if they have early mild to moderate COVID-19 to not wait, to not passively quarantine a home, but to actually ask, do I have one of those risk factors for progression? And if I do have one of those risk factors for progression, let me seek out that therapy while I’m doing active quarantine, getting on the phone, talking to my healthcare provider, seeing if I qualify, and arranging a location to receive the monoclonal antibodies.”

Gottlieb says evidence-based trials and research have proven the antibody treatment to be effective.

“The treatments are very well studied through multiple different randomized placebo-controlled trials. I’ll take the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies for a second. There are three manufacturers that have emergency use authorizations. Those are Eli Lilly, Regeneron, and GSK. In addition, there are other companies that have started reporting out their data that shows similar results,” said Gottlieb. “So you have a consistent theme with independent parties, all demonstrating that the well-designed neutralizing, monoclonal antibodies can decrease the risk for progression.”

“We also have real-world evidence through multiple health care systems throughout the country, and through that, the world also demonstrating independently consistent results, decreasing the risk of progression to hospitalization,” said Gottlieb.

Gottlieb says it’s essential for people to know that treatments and vaccines are not experimental and are safe despite being approved for use by the FDA through an emergency use authorization.

“A patient will need to acknowledge that the therapy is, in the words of the FDA, investigational, but that doesn’t mean it’s experimental in the typical way that we’re thinking,” said Gottlieb. “One of the things about an emergency use authorization is it allows the FDA and the CDC more control to swap out a therapy. For example, if a variant were to develop that were to escape one of the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, if it had full approval it would be more difficult to adjust, but because we have this system, the CDC actually, surveils what variants are out there throughout the country and throughout the states and is prepared to intervene and swap out which neutralizing monoclonal antibodies are available and what areas based on which ones we think will work.”

“That’s actually an advantage of the emergency use authorization,” said Gottlieb. It’s an advantage that might go away if it received full approval. We have compelling data that’s been published. I’ve personally been part of studies being published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it’s been repeatedly shown across vendors that neutralizing monoclonal antibodies do work, and they do save lives.”

Antibody treatment is free for those who meet the qualifications. You may be eligible for treatment if you have tested positive for COVID-19, are 12 years of age or older (and at least 88 pounds), and are at a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Greater risk symptoms include having a body mass index (BMI) ≥35, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease, currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment.

For a complete list of qualifications, contact your physician.

Click here to find the closest antibody infusion center near you.

Geoffrey hesitated to get his COVID-19 vaccine when it became available. But after spending a month in the hospital fighting the virus, he has helped 60 of his friends and family change their minds and get vaccinated. ​ There’s still time to find the words to help your loved ones get vaccinated.

Posted by Baylor Scott & White Health on Thursday, October 21, 2021

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