As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, people are taking fewer precautions and the virus continues to spread in communities across the country. While getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent COVID-19, it’s also important to understand the potential treatment options available if you do get sick, particularly if you’re at high-risk for developing serious illness and complications.
As part of its mission to help prevent infection and severe illness from COVID-19, the American Lung Association has partnered with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline to raise awareness about available treatment options. Here’s what to know:
Timing is Important
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, it’s critical to get tested right away. If you’re a high-risk individual and test positive for COVID-19, speak to your healthcare provider about available treatment options that may help prevent severe illness and reduce the risk of hospitalization. Treatments, which include monoclonal antibodies (MABs), need to start as soon as possible and within 10 days of symptom onset to help prevent possible progression of severe illness.
MABs products that are authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration are used for patients who test positive for COVID-19, who are over 12 years old, are experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and who are at high risk of hospitalization. MABs are laboratory-made proteins that work by attaching to the replicating virus within an infected individual, which may enable the immune system to better recognize and stop the infection, preventing further illness from occurring. MAB treatment is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion or injection at a doctor’s office or outpatient center.
It’s important to know whether you’re a higher-risk individual and eligible for MAB treatment. You’re considered high-risk if you’re aged 65 and older, have a chronic lung disease (including asthma, COPD, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis or pulmonary hypertension) and if you have certain medical conditions. These conditions include being pregnant, overweight, or immunocompromised, as well as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Treatments are widely available, and advocates say that efforts should be made to ensure that the communities most affected by COVID-19 have equitable access, this includes racial and ethnic minority groups, including Black, Latino/Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native communities.
If you do receive MABs, you should delay COVID-19 vaccination by at least 90 days.
For more information about COVID-19 and available treatments, visit lung.org.
Treatment options for COVID-19 are a step in the right direction to helping end this pandemic, say doctors, however it’s always preferable to prevent a disease than to treat it. Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can help keep you from getting sick or spreading the infection to others.