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ADPH: Monoclonal antibody treatment not a replacement for vaccines

Monoclonal antibody infusion is for those who are at high risk for becoming seriously ill if...
Monoclonal antibody infusion is for those who are at high risk for becoming seriously ill if infected by coronavirus and works by building rapid immunity to the virus.(UAB)
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:13 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health says it has the ability to treat some high-risk COVID-19 patients with monoclonal antibodies, as well as some who have been exposed to the virus, but warned the treatment is not a replacement for getting vaccinated.

According to ADPH, the treatment helps those who are at high risk for becoming seriously ill if infected by the coronavirus and works by building rapid immunity. However, these products are only for those at high risk for serious illness, individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or people who are close contacts of someone who tested positive.

The treatment has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization if taken quickly after infection.

According to Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, the state has almost 230 providers that can offer monoclonal antibody treatment. While there’s no shortage and, until last week, no limitations on the availability of the treatment, that will change, Harris stated Friday.

HHS is moving toward a temporary allocation of monoclonal antibody treatment to states, requiring that it be tracked by healthcare providers to ensure they are distributed where needed.

“Several states in the southeastern US, states with low vaccination rates, are seeing real surges and a demand for monoclonal products, and so that’s led to this temporary allocation process,” Harris said.

Harris said Alabama will be allocated about 70% of what it’s asking for, at least until October. He said HHS indicated it would only last until October, though he wasn’t sure if that was early or late October.

Not everyone qualifies for treatment with monoclonal antibodies, ADPH warned. Healthcare providers have been asked to review the criteria for administrating them and to prioritize patients based on their risk of progression to severe COVID-19 disease.

There are currently three monoclonal antibody products being used under emergency use authorization for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19.

Persons not eligible for monoclonal treatment for COVID-19 are:

  • Those hospitalized for COVID-19
  • Those who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19
  • Those who are on chronic oxygen therapy due to an underlying non-COVID-19-related comorbidity and who require an increase in oxygen flow rate from baseline because of COVID-19
  • Persons less than 12 years of age

ADPH said providers are strongly encouraged to consult with pediatric infectious disease specialists when considering treatment of children and teens and are asked to consider preventive monoclonal antibody treatment for individuals who:·

  • Are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 and
  • Have a positive COVID-19 test and have not yet been admitted to the hospital and
  • Are 12 years of age or older and weigh at least 88 pounds

Post-exposure preventive monoclonal antibody treatment should be considered for individuals who have been exposed and who are:·

  • High risk for developing severe COVID-19 and
  • 12 years of age or older and weigh at least 88 pounds and
  • Not fully vaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised or on immunosuppressive treatment

Treatment should be given as soon as possible within 10 days after a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19, to patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and who are at “high risk” for disease progression to severe COVID-19.

High-risk conditions include any of the following:·

  • Immunosuppressive disease or weakened immune system such as rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, cancer or HIV
  • Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Overweight (Adult - body mass index over 25, Child - body mass index greater than the 85th percentile for age and gender)
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Cardiovascular disease/hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease such asthma, or other chronic respiratory disease requiring daily medications for control
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy
  • Medical-related technological dependence (for example: tracheostomy, gastrostomy or positive pressure ventilation not related to COVID-19)

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