In a world where news about vaccines, mandates and treatments related to COVID-19 seems to change by the week, and where far too many people are being exposed to misinformation over social media, it can be hard to know what’s real and what’s fringe science.
For example, you may have heard about COVID Antibody Therapy, also known as monoclonal antibodies, but do you know how they work?
When popular podcaster Joe Rogan contracted COVID-19 in September, he hopped on Instagram to tell his followers that he was “throwing the kitchen sink at it” with treatments that included “monoclonal antibodies, Ivermectin, Z-Pak, Prednisone, everything.” And just like that, an FDA-approved antibody therapy was lumped in with Ivermectin, a controversial treatment with no trial-based evidence to back it up.
In comparison to more controversial treatments and medications, COVID Antibody Therapy has been proven to work in multiple trials and through other research.
So what is COVID Antibody Therapy?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, which has issued emergency use authorizations for multiple COVID Antibody Therapy treatments, the monoclonal antibodies used in those treatments are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses.”
Made to mimic the antibodies your body creates naturally to fight viruses and other bugs, monoclonal antibodies target and bind to the coronavirus spike protein, blocking the virus from entering your body’s cells, according to Lindsay Petty, MD, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Michigan. If the virus can’t enter cells, it can’t make copies of itself and continue spreading within the body.
COVID antibody therapy can be used as a prophylaxis after exposure to COVID-19 to decrease the chances of experiencing symptoms by 93%. Research has also shown that, when used as treatment for COVID-positive patients, COVID Antibody Therapy can reduce the mortality rate by 20%-70%, decrease the time in which patients experience symptoms by two weeks, and decrease viral loads to make patients less contagious.
“We’re working to make it easier for people to get monoclonal antibody treatment by increasing the number of places you can get it around the state,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “This treatment will help COVID-positive patients from developing severe illness, so we can save lives.”
In August, StarMed Healthcare became the first non-hospital-system clinic in the Charlotte area to administer COVID Antibody Therapy. The goal was to relieve the burden on the hospital system brought on by the Delta variant, and the healthcare company has since administered over 2,500 treatments in the area.
“We were extremely excited to lead the way in opening our COVID Antibody Therapy Clinics back in August, with zero cost to patients,” said StarMed Healthcare CEO Dr. Mike Estramonte. “Our efforts have proven to be incredibly successful in improving patient morbidity and mortality, as well as decreasing hospitalizations in our overstretched healthcare systems.”
Beginning in the last week of August, StarMed was able to administer 150 daily doses of COVID Antibody Therapy from a new site on North Wendover Road in Charlotte, though they had offered the therapy at different locations before then, and have since added five new locations in the Charlotte, Gastonia and Asheville areas.
“I tested COVID positive on Sunday, August the 15th. I was having some bad fever-like symptoms … with chills, a bad headache and body aches,” read one StarMed patient testimonial. “The next day I signed up for StarMed Healthcare’s monoclonal antibody treatment and it did wonders for me. Today is Tuesday, August the 17th, the day after I had the treatment, and I’m almost completely symptom free.”
Replicated antibodies used in COVID Antibody Therapy are administered through either a 21-minute IV infusion or subcutaneous injection, followed by a 60-minute observation for any side effects. The antibodies remain in the patient’s system for 30 to 90 days. Minor side effects include nausea and dizziness, while serious side effects are rare. More data about safety and efficacy can be found on the StarMed website, as well as a full list of locations and available appointment times at which StarMed is offering monoclonal antibody therapy.