The Facts of Monoclonal Antibody Therapy to Overcome COVID-19

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Monoclonal antibody therapy is reserved for those whose symptoms are still mild and who have not used oxygen therapy. This therapy utilizes an artificial protein designed to block the attachment and entry of viruses into human cells.

Over time, more and more drugs and vaccines have been proven to be able to overcome COVID-19. One of them is monoclonal antibody therapy which is claimed to be able to reduce hospitalization time and prevent worsening of symptoms. However, this drug can only be given to COVID-19 patients whose symptoms are still mild and do not require oxygen therapy.

In the United States, the U.S. The Food and Drugs Administration has also approved the emergency use of monoclonal antibody therapy since February 2021. There are two types of drugs used in this therapy, namely Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab. The results of the first and second phase of clinical trials at the global level showed promising safety, effectiveness, and efficacy of the use of these drugs.

What is Monoclonal Antibody Therapy?

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. Bamlanivimab and etesevimab are monoclonal antibodies that specifically target the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thus blocking the attachment and entry of the virus into human cells. Bamlanivimab and etesevimab bind to different sites but act simultaneously on viral spike proteins.

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In a clinical trial of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients, a single infusion of bamlanivimab and etesevimab given together significantly reduced COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. However, the safety and effectiveness of the investigative test reports in the treatment of COVID-19 are still being evaluated.

However, treatment with bamlanivimab and etesevimab has not been studied in patients hospitalized for COVID-19. Because currently clinical trials of new monoclonal therapy are limited to outpatients. In addition, monoclonal antibody therapies, such as bamlanivimab and etesevimab, may show poorer clinical outcomes when given to hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who require high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

The experiment that has been conducted at South Korean pharmaceutical company, Celltrion Healthcare, shows potential results for the treatment of COVID-19 for adults with mild to moderate symptoms.

This therapy has even been shown to be able to show strong neutralizing activity against wild-type SARS-CoV-2 virus variants or several COVID-19 variants that are now of concern such as Alpha (B 117), Delta (B 1617), Beta (B 1351), to Gamma (P1) variants.

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Side Effects

There are some serious and unexpected side effects of monoclonal antibody therapy, these include hypersensitivity, anaphylaxis, and infusion-related reactions. However, this effect was only for bamlanivimab without coadministration with etesevimab.

In addition, clinical deterioration after administration of bamlanivimab has also been reported, although it is not known whether these events are related to the use of bamlanivimab or to the development of COVID-19. Possible side effects of bamlanivimab and etesevimab if they are given together are nausea, dizziness, pruritus, and rash.

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Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Cost

The Regeneron cocktail, which consists of two active ingredients, costs US$1,250 per infusion, according to Kaiser Health News. It is covered by The federal government.

Compare that to the cost of a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine – about $20 – which is also currently being funded by the federal government.

GSK and Vir monoclonal antibodies cost about US$2,100 per infusion. This is covered by a combination of government payments, reimbursements, and GSK’s copay program, reports USA Today.

However, some infusion centers may charge for treatment. These are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance, although some plans may require additional fees.

If you are uninsured or are concerned about the cost, check with your treatment center in advanced if you will be billed for the infusion.

To receive monoclonal antibody treatment, you must have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days. You will also need a referral from a doctor.

References:

  • Medical News Today. Diakses pada 2021. COVID-19: What is Monoclonal Antibody Therapy?
  • U.S. Food and Drugs Administration. Diakses pada 2021. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Monoclonal Antibodies for Treatment of COVID-19.
  • U.S. National Institute of Health. Diakses pada 2021. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies

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