Who Qualifies For COVID Antibody Treatment?

Three monoclonal antibody treatments have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but there are certain criteria that potential patients must meet in order to be eligible for the COVID-19 treatment.

Only people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms qualify for the treatment, though the term "high risk" encompasses a wide array of various conditions and factors.

Anyone who is pregnant, or aged 65 or older, qualifies for monoclonal antibody treatment by way of being "high risk."

As does anyone who is overweight, which is classified in this instance as having a Body Mass Index of 25 or higher in adults, and being in the 85th percentile or higher on the growth chart for children.

Underlying illnesses, such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and sickle cell disease, also render a person high risk, as do neurodevelopmental disorders, a weakened immune system, and immunosuppressive disease.

Like COVID-19 vaccines, monoclonal antibody treatments are limited to people aged 12 years old and above, though in this case children must also weigh at least 88 pounds to be eligible.

Furthermore, in order to receive monoclonal antibody treatment, a person must either test positive for COVID-19 and have mild or moderate symptoms that started within a 10-day timeframe, or have been exposed to COVID-19 without testing positive.

Anybody who has been hospitalized by COVID-19 but otherwise fits the above criteria will not qualify for the treatment.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created proteins that are designed to mimic a healthy immune system's response to a virus. The treatment can be administered through an intravenous line or via injections.

A trial involving more than 5,000 patients, which was conducted between March 10 and June 25, found that the monoclonal antibody treatments bamlanivimab-etesevimab and casirivimab-imdevimab, which have both been authorized for emergency use by the FDA, can significantly decrease the rate of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

The findings have driven a seven-fold increase in the use of the COVID-19 treatment across the U.S., though availability varies from state to state.

Despite these positive early findings, the FDA has stressed that monoclonal antibody treatment, which can reduce the impact of COVID-19 on high risk individuals, is not a substitute for vaccination, which can not only protect against the virus but also slow its rate of transmission.

The next phase of the monoclonal antibody treatment trial will test how well it works against COVID-19 variants such as Delta, which is now the predominant strain in the U.S.

A girl wearing a facemask in hospital
Monoclonal antibody treatment for people at risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms can be administered via an intravenous line or injections. Domepitipat/iStock