Atrium Health has partnered with state and local officials to expand access to out-patient monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments – a promising COVID-19 therapy.

Coronavirus Updates, News | 21 days ago

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy: A Promising Treatment Option for High-Risk COVID-19 Positive Patients

Atrium Health has partnered with state and local officials to expand access to out-patient monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments – a promising COVID-19 therapy. Lisa Davidson, MD, an infectious disease physician with Atrium Health, answers some questions about monoclonal antibody treatments.

Atrium Health has expanded access to out-patient monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments, with three facilities now administering the therapy to patients who are eligible and receive a physician referral. Partnering with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Atrium Health is the first hospital system in North Carolina to join Crush COVID, the national initiative seeking to increase access to mAB.

Vaccination remains the best way to curb further spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, but the one-time mAb treatment has been shown to help prevent progression of the disease that might otherwise require hospitalization.

Lisa Davidson, MD, an infectious disease physician with Atrium Health, recently answered some questions about monoclonal antibody treatment.

What is monoclonal antibody treatment?

It’s the use of monoclonal antibodies, which are lab-created proteins that act like all antibodies normally do – they neutralize (or disarm) the virus from causing more infection. The treatment is administered through intravenous infusion, delivering medication directly into a patient’s bloodstream. The studies of these antibodies found that when patients who were symptomatic with COVID-19 received the treatment, the number of patients who needed to be admitted to the hospital or an emergency room decreased by 70%.

Who qualifies to receive mAb?

There are a wide variety of medical conditions that can qualify a patient for monoclonal antibodies, including being overweight, having diabetes, being over the age of 65, and being pregnant. If you have not been vaccinated or are immunocompromised and have been exposed to COVID-19, you may be eligible within seven days of exposure. The treatment is also only available by physician referral to those ages 12 and older.

What should patients do?

We are recommending that patients call their doctor if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and have a positive test for COVID-19. They can discuss whether they qualify for the treatment. We’re still asking patients to stay home if they’re symptomatic. We can have people come in for a visit at an appropriate time or do a virtual visit.

How important is receiving the treatment within one week’s time?

We want people to get screened and receive the therapy as soon as possible. Published data shows this is really effective when given early in COVID-19 infection.

How much does it cost?

The drug, REGEN-COV, is free to patients. There is a cost for the infusion and the office visit that is covered by most insurance. But Atrium Health is waiving the cost of the infusion for people who don’t have insurance.

What makes mAb important?

It’s really the only treatment that has been shown in high quality clinical trial to keep patients out of the hospital. Unlike other available treatments, monoclonal antibodies work best before patients need oxygen. The main benefit of this therapy is keeping people out of the emergency room, out of the hospital and out of the ICU. When we give it within the first seven days of symptoms, we see the benefits.

We know when giving this medication that we can keep people in their home – which is really important – and help keep them from getting severely ill.

To confirm eligibility for the treatment, patients should contact their Atrium Health primary care physician or call 704-468-8888.