If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, one of the first questions you may have is, What can I do to reduce the risk of getting sicker? The good news is, there are treatments that may reduce that risk. Depending on your age, health history, and how long you’ve had symptoms of COVID-19, you may qualify for a promising form of treatment for the disease. It’s called monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment.
Some early evidence suggests that mAb treatment can reduce the amount of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) in a person's system. This amount is known as viral load. Having a lower viral load means you may have milder symptoms thereby decreasing the chance of you needing to stay in the hospital.
The FDA has granted Emergency Use Approvals (EUAs) for several mAb treatments: etesevimab and bamlanivimab, REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab), and sotrovimab.
Visit the FDA page Know Your Treatment Options for COVID-19 page to learn more.
How effective are mAb treatments?
Currently, mAb treatments for people with COVID-19 are only approved by the FDA for emergency use, but data show they are successful in reducing the chance of severe disease, hospitalization and death by 70 percent, and the treatment shortens the duration of symptoms by an average of four days.
So far over 18,000 South Carolinians have been treated with monoclonal antibodies, preventing an estimated 2,000 hospitalizations and 200 deaths. No anaphylactic reactions or other serious adverse events have been reported.
Who benefits most from mAb treatments?
mAb treatment may help people who:
- Have a positive COVID-19 test, and had symptoms for 10 days or less
- Are at high risk of getting more serious symptoms
- Are not hospitalized or require supplemental oxygen
Children age 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds can be treated with monoclonal antibodies. Your doctor can help determine if monoclonal antibody treatment is appropriate for you or your child.
See the Understanding Your COVID-19 Treatment Options fact sheet to learn more.
If you don’t qualify for mAb treatment, you still have options. There are clinical trials for people like you.
Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for COVID-19 and other conditions. For more information about joining a clinical trial, call 877-414-8106 or visit Combat COVID's clinical trials page.
The federal government has informed each state that there is a national shortage of monoclonal antibodies. As a result, South Carolina will only receive 4,460 doses for this week's allocation to be distributed next week. In contrast, facilities across the state already have orders for 13,000 doses pending.
Due to the shortage, DHEC is determining the allocations for monoclonal antibody treatment sites in the state based on the amount the state will receive, sites' utilization rates, and access. We are quickly working on the details with the goal of assisting as many South Carolinians as we can with this successful treatment.
It is important to remember that monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination. Those looking to protect themselves against COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines are safe, effective, and available for free at thousands of locations across the state.
In July 2021, the FDA authorized use of monoclonal antibodies as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people who are unvaccinated or vaccinated, have come into contact with the virus, and are at higher risk for severe COVID-19. Those at high risk include people who are older than 65, overweight (BMI greater than 25), have diabetes, chronic kidney, heart or lung disease, who are pregnant, or have weakened immune systems. The monoclonal antibodies can be given by intravenous (IV) infusion or a series of subcutaneous (SQ) shots. PEP can reduce the risk of infection of household contacts of infected people by as much as 81 percent. Monoclonal antibodies are safe, free, and highly effective but they need to be given within the first 10 days after symptoms developed or within 10 days of exposure if given as PEP.
mAb treatments locations
Please see the map of locations below. mAb treatment must be recommended by a healthcare professional based on a person’s health history and how long they’ve had symptoms of COVID-19. A person can’t simply show up at one of these locations without a referral.
Prior to the national shortage, DHEC was working with partners to expand the number of mAB infusion locations in the state, and was also reaching out to providers that offer home infusions to expand this treatment, at a doctor’s recommendation, to homebound people. This collaborative work will continue once the national shortage is resolved.
- Combat COVID: Find ways to prevent, treat or help fight COVID-19
- CDC: Treatments Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend if You Are Sick
- CMS: Monoclonal Antibody COVID-19 Infusion
- CMS: COVID-19 Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibodies
- FDA Authorizes Monoclonal Antibodies for Treatment of COVID-19 (casirivimab and imdevimab)
- FDA authorizes bamlanivimab and etesevimab monoclonal antibody therapy for post-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) for COVID-19
- FDA Authorizes Additional Monoclonal Antibody for Treatment of COVID-19