Monoclonal antibody treatment helping COVID-19 patients fight back

Scientists work at the mAbxience biosimilar monoclonal antibody laboratory plant in Garin, Buenos Aires province, on August 14, 2020. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

When 50-year-old Cristina Francia was diagnosed with COVID-19, doctors at Bellevue asked if she would consider monoclonal antibody treatment to help her fight the disease, a treatment the FDA had given emergency use authorization. She spoke to her personal physician, Dr. Andrew Wallach, to explain the treatment to her.  

"Monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune systems ability to fight off pathogens including viruses like the COVID-19 virus," Wallach said.

The proteins prevent the virus from attaching to and entering human cells. 

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Doctors say ideal candidates are patients with high-risk underlying conditions who have a mild or moderate case of coronavirus that was diagnosed 10 days prior to starting the treatment.  

"Patients who qualify for the treatment, we start an IV line in their arm and we mix two different types of monoclonal antibodies for proteins that are then infused thru that IV line. It takes about 30 minutes," Wallach said. 

Bellevue is one of 11 hospitals in New York City city hospitals now offering monoclonal antibody treatment. 

Dr. Wallach cautions that while it's been proven as an effective therapy, it's not a vaccine. 

"This is a proven therapeutic intervention that will help prevent your COVID from getting worse," Dr. Wallach said. "It will keep you well and it will keep you out of the hospital."

It certainly did for Cristina, who also suffers from asthma. 

If you want to learn more about how to get screened to see if monoclonal antibody treatment is right for you, visit the NYC Health & Hospitals website

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