Md. offers COVID-19 antibody treatment to high-risk patients with mild symptoms

There’s a relatively new treatment for certain COVID-19 patients that Maryland’s Health Department is making available for residents to consider.

Monoclonal antibody therapy can help prevent mild COVID-19 symptoms from developing into issues that are more serious.

The Food and Drug Administration approved its use in November for people 65-years-old and up or younger people with chronic medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or chronic lung disease.

“We want people to be educated about this,” said Dr. Jinlene Chan, Acting MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services.

“It may not be the right approach for everyone, so we would encourage people to talk to their provider about their risk factors and whether it’s the right treatment for them,” she said.

The treatment is not for people with advanced COVID-19 symptoms. Chan said they should be in hospitals.

“We’re looking for people with just mild symptoms — so maybe a cough or a fever but they’ve tested positive for COVID-19,” she said.

The antibodies used in the treatment are laboratory-made proteins that mimic a body’s natural antibodies’ ability to fight viruses. Compared to COVID-19 positive people not receiving the treatment, it’s shown to result in fewer COVID-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits.

The treatment includes a onetime, one-hour intravenous infusion with a one-hour observational wait period after which a person can go home. The dose of antibodies is free, but there may be other costs related to the infusion process that may be covered by insurance.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is available in Maryland through a number of hospitals, health systems and some dialysis centers.

“We have also provided this to nearly 100% of the nursing homes in the state,” Chan said.

You can find Frequently Asked Questions about the procedure on the state’s website. Health care providers who want to refer a patient for monoclonal antibody treatment can find instructions and resources on the state’s website.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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