Aug 2, 2021 - Health

FDA authorizes antibody treatment to prevent COVID after exposure

Photo of a booth set up with a sign that says "Covid-19 antibody testing, check in here"

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration has authorized a COVID antibody treatment for use as a preventative measure after exposure to the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Though the FDA said it should not be considered a vaccine substitute, the monoclonal antibodies can protect against severe illness by overwhelming the infection before it leaves the nose and throat, according to researchers.

  • The FDA's expanded authorization means REGEN-COV can be administered as an injection. The first dose would need to be injected within 96 hours of exposure.
  • People who qualify for its use must be unvaccinated or immunocompromised, at high risk of severe infection and in close contact with someone who tested positive.
  • Clinical trials show the treatment can reduce the risk of developing symptoms by more than 30%. It's been shown to prevent the need for emergency room visits and hospitalization.

What they're saying: "It’s a race between your ability to make an antibody to protect your lungs and the rest of your body and the virus," Myron Cohen, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and one of the investigators behind the study of COVID antibodies, told NBC News.

  • "And if you’re likely to lose the race, you’re the person for whom these antibody drugs are appropriate."
  • It will help people who don't respond well to vaccines or don't make antibodies themselves, according to Ghady Haidar, a transplant infectious diseases physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
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