SWFL medical experts weigh in on monoclonal antibody treatments

They say they can be helpful but vaccines should be the priority
Monoclonal antibody treatments explained
Posted at 7:51 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 19:15:03-04

ESTERO, Fla.  — The team at WFTX turned to two local medical experts to find out more about a topic we've been hearing a lot about lately - monoclonal antibody treatments.

We began by interviewing the director of FGCU's Physician Assistant program, Robert Hawkes.

Below is a transcript of our conversation - edited for clarity and length.

WFTX: So what is a monoclonal antibody treatment?

ROBERT HAWKES/DIRECTOR, FGCU PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM: So monoclonal anitbodies are made in a laboratory and they’re supposed to mimic the bodies protection. So what they will do is attack the Covid virus and really slow it down so it doesn’t replicate. And it’s really designed for people who have tested positive for Covid 19 but also have serious implications or serious conditions which can make them sick and may require hospitalization.

WFTX: So how does this treatment actually work? How is it administered?

ROBERT HAWKES/DIRECTOR, FGCU PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM: What happens is the patient goes into a provider’s office, and they get an IV infusion. So they get this medication that kind of goes through their veins. And it’s getting into the body so the body can fight off the Covid 19 symptoms right away.

WFTX: Anything else you might want to share about MAT’s you think people might want to keep in mind at this point in the pandemic?

ROBERT HAWKES/DIRECTOR, FGCU PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM: Yeah, I think there are a lot of important people need to remember. Some people may say “Oh I’m not going to get the vaccine, because I can just wait for the monoclonal antibodies. There’s relatively small supply, there will be more supply at time goes on. But it’s also for people at greater risk for hospitalization, this is for people who have or tested positive and will give them extra benefit so they won’t get seriously sick and require hospitalization.

ROBERT HAWKES/DIRECTOR, FGCU'S PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM: This treatment has only been approved for a few months. And even less than that that’s it’s become more readily available. I would say probably the end of the year, we’ll have a better indication of how effective it’s going to be. So with the vaccine, you get benefits over a longer period of time. With the monoclonal anti-bodies, it’s really a shorter period of time. It’s not meant to replace the vaccine. It’s mean to fight the virus and the infection now – not necessarily a month or two later. So I think that’s the important thing for people to remember. It’s that this is really that this is really short term help and it’s not designed to replace the vaccine because after monoclonal anti-bodies, it’s still possible a patient could get another infection of Covid 19.

WFTX also contacted a very experienced infectious disease doctor in our area to get your more perspective

Dr. Doug Brust gave us the following statement:

"Monoclonal antibodies absolutely help. But the focus should be on PREVENTING COVID, not treating. Monoclonal antibodies will not end the pandemic. Masking, social distancing and vaccinations will."