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.
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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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