The last three years have seen incredible scientific advances in the fight against COVID-19. For the last three years, we’ve been in a global pandemic and vaccines and other measures have played an important role in reducing severe outcomes if a person contracts COVID. Vaccines have been especially important for those that are immunocompromised, but they aren’t the only method of protection. What are monoclonal antibodies? How do they differ from vaccines? And how can they protect you?
What are antibodies?
Antibodies are Y-shaped molecules that our bodies produce naturally. These molecules play an important role in fighting infections like COVID-19 by recognizing, binding to, and neutralizing specific viruses and other pathogens.
Monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are produced in a laboratory to mimic or enhance the immune system’s response. They imitate the body’s normal infection-fighting abilities.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is an important tool to protect against COVID-19, and is currently being evaluated for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in clinical trials.
Monoclonal antibodies vs. vaccines
What Is It?
- COVID-19 vaccine: Parts of a pathogen, or particle, that trigger an immune response against
- Monoclonal antibodies: An engineered molecule that mimics natural antibodies to imitate the body’s normal infection-fighting abilities
What does it do?
- COVID-19 vaccine: Prepares the body to recognize a virus and fight infection
- Monoclonal antibodies: Blocks virus from entering human cells and replicating
When does it take effect?
- COVID-19 vaccine: A few weeks after vaccination
- Monoclonal antibodies: Potentially within hours
How long does it last?
- COVID-19 vaccine: May provide long-term protection
- Monoclonal antibodies: Duration of effect may vary
What to expect during monoclonal antibodies treatment?
In most cases, monoclonal antibodies as intravenous (IV) solution. This means they are injected right into your vein (sometimes referred to as an infusion). They’re often done in an infusion center where there are several people getting treatment at one time.
Monoclonal antibodies are used for diagnosis, disease treatment and research. They’re used:
- As probes to identify materials in laboratories or for use in home-testing kits like those for pregnancy or ovulation.
- To type tissue and blood for use in transplants.
- For diagnosis.
- For disease treatment.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, monoclonal antibodies can be: