The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved emergency use of a preventive monoclonal antibody treatment to protect those who are vulnerable to coronavirus.
The agency said in a press release last week that it had authorised the emergency use of REGEN-COV in adults and pediatric individuals who are at high risk for progression to severe Covid-19.
The antibody is only permitted to be used only after exposure to the virus and is said to be the first time an injectable antibody treatment has been approved for the prevention of Covid-19 post-exposure.
It should also only be used on those who are not fully vaccinated or may not have an “adequate immune response” to shots or those who are at high risk of exposure due to their settings, such as those in a nursing home or prison.
The FDA stipulated that the treatment is not a substitute for vaccination against Covid-19 and continued to urge people to get vaccinated if they are eligible.
NBC News reports that an estimated three per cent of Americans are immunocompromised, including those who have autoimmune diseases, cancer or are affected by HIV.
Dr Myron Cohen, a leading coronavirus antibody researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explained to NBC News that the treatment works by attacking the infection before it bypasses the nose and throat.
“It’s a race between your ability to make an antibody to protect your lungs and the rest of your body and the virus,” he told the broadcaster.
He added: “And if you’re likely to lose the race, you’re the person for whom these antibody drugs are appropriate.”
Dr Ghady Haidar, a transplant infectious diseases physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center told the outlet that “it’s good to know that” treatments are available for those who don’t respond well to vaccines.
“We can now help protect them against getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 by giving them antibodies following exposure,” she said.