Sep 10, 2021 - News
Arkansas' top health official pushes monoclonal antibodies
A box and vial of the Regeneron monoclonal antibody. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you watch Gov. Asa Hutchinson's weekly COVID-19 updates, you may have heard state health secretary Jose Romero stress monoclonal antibodies are available and effective at treating COVID-19.

Scott Warmack, dean of pharmacy at UAMS Northwest, talked to us about how the treatment works and why we should be paying attention to it.

Why it matters: Monoclonal antibodies can reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations by up to 70%, Warmack says.

  • The state's hospitals have been stretched thin for months caring for a surge of COVID-19 patients.

Details: Monoclonal antibodies are essentially lab-created antibodies that can help fight the virus early on, Warmack says. Treatment consists of four shots — two in the legs and two in the stomach. It's an outpatient procedure but does require patients to stay for observation for about an hour.

  • Context: This is different from the vaccine, which trains your immune system to fight against the virus if exposed and offers much longer-lasting protection that prevents you from getting sick in the first place.

Monoclonal antibodies are highly effective but are not for everyone. They work best in people with mild to moderate illness within the first ten days of experiencing symptoms and are not for people who are hospitalized or receiving oxygen.

  • The treatment is available to people over age 65, or those 12–64 who have a high risk for severe disease, are obese or pregnant, have certain diseases, such as diabetes, or have neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy.
  • See a list of places offering the treatment.

By the numbers: UAMS Northwest has performed about 70 of these treatments since it began administering them in mid-August.

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