What are monoclonal antibodies and how do they treat COVID?

Mono-clonal Antibody Therapy, a new COVID-19 treatment was a popular topic during a roundtable meeting this morning with Governor DeSantis, medical experts and Mayor Lenny Curry. Locally, the treatment would be very effective, but many hospitals are overwhelmed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A particular type of COVID-19 treatment was a popular topic in a roundtable meeting Gov. Ron DeSantis held Wednesday morning with medical experts and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

The treatment uses monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight-off harmful viruses like the coronavirus. They are effective in providing patients that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 some relief from the symptoms, but only if hospitals have the resources and staff to administer it.

“We really don’t hear as much publicly about it. If you do get infected what are your options? These monoclonals, like we’ve talked about, have a really good track record,” DeSantis said during the roundtable.

It’s an injectable antibody treatment that’s administered on an outpatient basis aimed at preventing serious illness from the virus.

“What monoclonal antibodies are, they kind of mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens, like the virus COVID-19. They kind of give the body the signal like, hey, there is an infection here, come. They recruit the body’s immune response to attack that infection,” explained Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease expert.

Reza said it’s suggested that the antibody is injected within six to 10 days of knowing that you’ve got COVID-19.

“You want to get this as soon as possible if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19,” Reza said. “It’s available for people who are symptomatic. There are risk qualifications that whatever facility you are getting it from will determine if you are a candidate for it. The earlier the better.”

During the roundtable with DeSantis, John Curtis, the CEO of Tampa General Hospital, said the injection is effective in almost all of its patients, adding that your physician must first determine whether you can benefit from the antibodies.

“Almost 100% of our patients have told us that 25 to 48 hours later, they feel much better, symptoms start to subside,” Curtis said.

News4JAX has learned that the antibody treatment is offered at local hospitals like Baptist and UF Health, but hospital workers there are overwhelmed with patients suffering from severe symptoms or patients in intensive care.

Reza said the monoclonal antibody treatment is authorized for non-hospitalized patients with mild or moderate illness.

“It is a medication given by an IV,” Reza said. “It’s not something you can take by mouth and go home, so it has to be administered in a facility, and given the number of patients we are seeing with COVID-19. It’s a markable increase. It’s supply and demand just like anything else.”

Monoclonal antibody treatments are also being considered for patients as a preventative measure for those who are immunocompromised and may be vulnerable to COVID-19 even after being vaccinated.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.