What are monoclonal antibodies and who can get them? Crestwood Medical Center experts explain


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Officials at Huntsville’s Crestwood Medical Center said they have administered more than 800 monoclonal antibody infusions since late last year.

The popular IV treatment for COVID-19 is a man-made antibody that mimics the human body’s immune response to viruses. The treatment, which was issued an emergency use authorization by the FDA last year, blocks the spikes on the COVID-19 virus and prevents it from entering your body’s cells.

“It really is designed for those who have mild to moderate symptoms with infection of COVID-19 to keep them from progressing to hospitalization,” said Marshall Robbins, Crestwood Medical Center’s Director of Pharmacy.

The treatment can be given within the first 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to people who have qualifying comorbidities. According to Crestwood Medical Center, qualifying conditions include:

  • Obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 25)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • History of immunosuppressive treatment, immunosuppressive disease, or immunosuppressive treatment
  • Pregnancy
  • Cardiovascular disease or hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Having a medical-related technological dependence (e.g., tracheostomy, gastrostomy)

The infusion is also available to people in those categories who have been exposed to COVID-19 but have not yet tested positive, as long as they have not been fully vaccinated or who have been fully vaccinated but are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to complete SARS-CoV-2 vaccination (for example, people with immunocompromising conditions including those taking immunosuppressive medications).

University of Alabama at Birmingham Infectious Diseases physician Dr. Jodie Dionne says the infusion is safe for expectant mothers.

“Pregnancy is definitely included. The goal for these people, once diagnosed with COVID, is to get them into these clinics where they can have the antibodies to keep them out of the hospital. It doesn’t work for everybody, but we’re trying to ramp up the access for people including pregnant women so they can get access to it if they need it,” Dionne said.

The infusion is not available for people whose COVID-19 symptoms have progressed to the point of hospitalization. Robbins says that studies have shown COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms who get the monoclonal antibody infusion have worse outcomes than those who do not get the infusion.

A doctor’s order is required to get the monoclonal antibody infusion. For more information, visit Crestwood Medical Center’s Infusion Clinic’s website.

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