Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) offers outpatient treatment to help you manage COVID-19 symptoms at home.
The treatment, called monoclonal antibody therapy, reduces the severity of the disease and greatly decreases the chance that you’ll have to be admitted to the hospital.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q What are monoclonal antibodies?+
An antibody is a protein that is naturally produced by your body to help fight infection. A monoclonal antibody is made in a lab and works together with your body’s natural immune response. They make it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm and, in some cases, even eliminate the virus. Prior to COVID-19, monoclonal antibodies were used to treat other viral infections, such as Ebola and rabies.
Q What is monoclonal antibody therapy?+
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a one-time intravenous infusion, also called an IV. The infusion lasts around 30 minutes, followed by a one-hour observation period, and you are monitored by FHCSD staff for the entire duration of your visit.
Q What is an intravenous infusion?+
An intravenous infusion delivers fluids, medication or nutrition directly into a person’s bloodstream using a needle or tube.
Q What are the risks?+
Some patients may experience mild side effects, including itching, shortness of breath or low blood pressure. However, these side effects are very rare. People may also experience pain, soreness or bruising around the IV site. As with any medication, there is a very small chance of having an allergic reaction.
Q Is there an antibiotic I can take instead?+
No. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and antibiotics only work against bacteria. Currently, there are no other treatments effective against COVID-19 that can be given outside a hospital.
Q How effective is it?+
Monoclonal antibody infusions prevent the disease from becoming more severe or requiring a hospital visit. Studies have shown that the infusions reduce the chances of severe COVID-19 by 80%. Most patients report improvement of symptoms within 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
Q Who is eligible for the treatment?+
People who have tested positive and are at a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms get the most benefit from the treatment. This includes those over 65 and with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, and those who are overweight or obese. Your provider can determine if monoclonal antibody therapy is right for you.
The treatment can only be given within ten days of illness, so it is important to seek medical care and take a test for COVID-19 as soon as you develop symptoms.
Q Do I still need the vaccine if I received this treatment?+
If you received monoclonal antibody therapy, you do not need a vaccine until 90 days after treatment. The vaccines likely will not be effective until the antibodies have had a chance to go away. However, you should still get vaccinated once the 90-day period is over for stronger, longer-lasting protection from COVID-19.