What is Monoclonal Antibody Treatment?

Monoclonal antibodies with COVID cells illustration

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, there are treatments that may reduce the risk of developing severe illness that requires an emergency room visit or staying in the hospital. Depending on your age, health history, and how long you’ve had symptoms of COVID-19, you may qualify for a treatment called a monoclonal antibody (mAb).

mAb treatment may help people who:

  • Have a positive COVID-19 test and have had symptoms for 10 days or less
  • Are at high risk of developing more serious symptoms
What are monoclonal antibodies and how do they work?

Monoclonal antibodies are lab grown antibody substitutes that are engineered to assist the immune system in recognizing and responding to COVID-19. They’re able to target COVID-19-specific proteins and prevent them from attaching to human cells. The antibodies are administered as one-time treatments via intravenous injection (IV) or through a series of injections under the skin. After the treatment, you must be observed for an hour to ensure you don’t develop any adverse side effects.

There are currently three monoclonal antibody treatments authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Although they are currently considered an investigational medicines, preliminary research suggests monoclonal antibodies may be effective in treating mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

Who is eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment?

Right now, monoclonal antibody treatment is reserved for individuals who:

  • Are considered high risk for developing severe COVID-19 and
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and
  • Are 12 and older and weigh at least 88 lbs. (regardless of vaccination status)

At this time, Beth Israel Lahey Health offers infusions to patients with a referral from a Beth Israel Lahey Health provider. Referrals are necessary to be considered eligible for treatment.

Due to high volumes, we’re not able to guarantee treatment to everyone with a referral. We’re prioritizing treatment for symptomatic individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are most at risk of developing severe illness, including those who are unvaccinated or have severe immunocompromising conditions.

If you’re considered high risk for developing severe COVID-19, talk to your doctor today to determine if you’re a candidate for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment. For more information, refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.