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Health and Fitness News

Lowering the Viral Load

Monoclonal antibody treatment may be what you need to avoid getting sicker with a COVID-19 infection.

Fever, chills, body aches, and a cough. Test results reveal what you feared: you’re COVID-19 positive. You know to isolate yourself, drink plenty of fluids, and rest. But is there anything you can do to reduce your chances of getting sicker? With many home remedies and medications promising to speed healing or relieve symptoms, you’re not sure what to do or who to trust.

The first thing to do is talk with your doctor. Depending on your age, health record, and length of time you’ve had COVID-19, you may be a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment.

Here’s what you should know about this promising form of treatment.

What Is It?

When you’re exposed to a virus, your immune system kicks into action and produces antibodies specific to that virus to fight the infection. This process, however, can take days or weeks. Since the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus is new, you’ve probably not had it before. As a result, you have no antibodies to fight it off. Fortunately for you, scientists have developed a way to create antibodies that mimic those that the body would produce.

Known as monoclonal antibodies (mAb), these antibodies are made in a lab. Their purpose is to give your immune system a boost in fighting COVID-19.
If you have a mild case of COVID, you have what’s called a low viral load. That means there’s not a lot of the virus in your body. A high viral load indicates a more severe infection and a higher risk for admittance to the hospital. With mAb treatment, you may lower your viral load and therefore lessen symptoms.

Different from a Vaccine

Monoclonal antibodies shouldn’t be confused with the COVID-19 vaccine. When given a vaccine, your immune system is encouraged to begin developing antibodies that recognize and fight any future infections. However, this natural immune response can take weeks. When you’re already sick with COVID, it’s too late for the vaccine to protect you.

As with vaccination, there is no live virus in an mAb treatment. Therefore, it will not make you sick.

What to Expect

You may be eligible for this form of treatment if you’ve had COVID-19 symptoms for fewer than 10 days. You must also be at least 12 years old, weigh 88 pounds or more, and be at risk for worsening symptoms.

mAb treatment is given at an infusion center. The infusion process takes two to three hours, so be ready for a long day. Talk with your doctor about how and where to sign up for treatment. When you arrive, you’ll undergo a screening and then be given an IV. When the infusion is complete, you’ll be asked to stay at the center for an hour of observation. This allows medical professionals to keep an eye on you in case you develop side effects or an allergic reaction, which are rare.

Even though your symptoms may improve with mAb treatment, you’re not clear immediately. Until you’re fever-free for 24 hours or more without medication and it’s been at least ten days since symptoms began, you’re still considered contagious.

Risks Involved

Studies are ongoing in the treatment of COVID-19. Currently, it’s unknown whether an mAb treatment may hinder your body’s ability to fight off a future infection. The treatment may also lessen your body’s ability to produce an immune response to a future COVID-19 vaccine. After receiving an mAb treatment, it’s recommended to wait at least 90 days before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.