Pregnant women with COVID are being treated with monoclonal antibody therapy

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Concerns about the Delta variant continue to cause concern for women who are pregnant.

Many are now turning to monoclonal antibody infusion to help treat symptoms of the virus.

UAB infectious disease experts said the infusion treatments are highly effective, but they said preventative measures, including getting the COVID-19 vaccine, is the strongest protection against hospitalization.

Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to clear infections.

But experts said the problem is that it takes our bodies weeks to make good antibodies and when we’re talking about COVID-19 time can be the enemy.

That’s why monoclonal antibody therapy is so important.

“And what our studies are showing us is it can reduce even by as much as 70% the risk of that person ending up in the hospital or ending up with severe disease,” said Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAB, Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom.

Patients are sent to an infusion center to get the one-time treatment of antibodies.

Dr. Dionne said those who are pregnant and test positive for COVID are typically sent to the front of the line.

“Because of how severely ill some pregnant women are becoming, most hospitals across the country are working really hard to fast-track pregnant women, so as soon as they’re identified as being ill with COVID-19, as soon as they have symptoms, there’s a well-defined process: who to call, how to get them an appointment, and how to get them in as soon as possible,” Dr. Dionne explained.

Pregnancy is one of the risk factors the CDC lists as a progression to severe COVID disease.

Expectant mothers should seriously consider monoclonal antibody therapy if they become sick.

But Dr. Dionne said there are better options.

“Instead of giving someone a medication after they’re already infected why don’t we try to block the infection at the nose in the first place, so they don’t get sick at all and that goes back to vaccination. So, I think monoclonal antibodies are important, it’s a part of our armamentarium, it’s not our best tool our best tool remains vaccination,” Dr. Dionne said.

Dr. Dionne said a number of pregnant women have had success with monoclonal antibody therapy at UAB.

But she can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone, including those who pregnant or want to become pregnant, to get the shot.

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