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Monoclonal Antibodies for COVID-19 Infections

Your doctor has decided to offer you monoclonal antibodies to fight a COVID-19 infection.

What are monoclonal antibodies? 

An antibody is a protein that the body produces to fight infections. A monoclonal antibody is a  similar protein created by scientists to help the body recognize and fight infection. Monoclonal antibodies are designed to target a specific disease like COVID-19. Previously, monoclonal antibodies have been used to fight other viral infections such as Ebola, rabies, and cytomegalovirus. 

The research so far shows that for some people, monoclonal antibodies may help limit the amount of virus in the body. This may help the symptoms improve sooner and may decrease the risk that people will need to be hospitalized. COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies are new and still being studied, so there is a lot that scientists do not know about the risks and benefits. 

Who receives monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 infections?

Monoclonal antibodies are given to patients who have COVID-19 but are not sick enough to stay in the hospital. Typically, monoclonal antibodies are given to higher-risk patients who have mild to moderate symptoms from a COVID-19 infection. Risk factors for worsening infection include chronic medical problems like diabetes, a weakened immune system, and age greater than 65. These monoclonal antibodies are usually given as an intravenous (IV) infusion at an infusion center or outpatient office.

What are potential side effects of a monoclonal antibody infusion?

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, face, or throat
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, sweating, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, or muscle pain),
  • Upset stomach (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
  • Rash, or hives, dizziness, or low blood pressure

Please tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have any side effects (during or after you receive the infusion of antibodies). Some of these side effects may be signs of a serious reaction. Only a limited number of people have received these antibodies. Scientists are still learning about the side effects and risks of monoclonal antibody infusions.

What are future risks and vaccine effects?

It is possible that monoclonal antibodies could make it harder for your body to fight off a future COVID-19 infection. It may also prevent a COVID-19 vaccination from working as well. Scientists have not done specific studies to address these possible risks. If you have any questions, please talk with your doctor.

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