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Possible new COVID treatment for immunocompromised folks

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 8:14 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama health leaders continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but for some it is not enough. Especially if you have health conditions.

The immunocompromised are those who are battling cancer, have diabetes, or organ transplant recipients. Their immune systems are not as strong as others. Now there is a study out showing monoclonal antibody treatments may be just the thing to help them fight off COVID, even if vaccine shots are not enough.

People who get infected with COVID early on may be candidates for a monoclonal antibody treatment. They get an injection or an infusion of antibodies to help reduce the impact of the virus. Now, those with certain health conditions could get a monoclonal treatment before any infection.

“Immune compromised people are a pretty large group in America. It’s two or three percent of the population - that is a lot of people in terms of absolute numbers,” Dr. Scott Harris said.

A new study shows people with health conditions who are vaccinated even with two, three or more shots, but it’s not enough protection for them. Monoclonal antibodies are usually given to those who are infected early on with COVID. Dr. Harris said that is not the case with this new product.

“What is new about this is we are likely to give monoclonal antibodies to someone before they are exposed to COVID,” Harris said.

The State Health Officer said those with health conditions or those at risk of being exposed to COVID because of their job would be candidates for this treatment. The FDA could soon grant emergency authorization to the drug maker Regeneron for a new monoclonal treatment product for these groups.

“I think there will probably be enough. The approval that is being sought is a new monoclonal antibody. It’s different than the one we are using now,” Harris said.

Regeneron reported this week that one dose of the treatment reduced the chances of getting COVID by almost 82%. Dr. Harris doesn’t believe cost will be a factor. Monoclonal treatment now is not passed on to the patient, but there may be administrative cost. Harris still recommended for the immunocompromised to get vaccinated as a way to reduce the effects of COVID.

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