Do antibody treatments work against the Omicron variant?

This is a recurring recording of KOLO 8 News Now at 10.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:03 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - As the number of COVID cases increase, there’s once again a high demand for emergency-use monoclonal antibodies.

Earlier this month, the federal government resumed shipping of all three monoclonal antibody treatments, despite data suggesting two of these fail to overcome the Omicron variant.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made molecules that act like antibodies your body develops from infection or vaccination.

“A monoclonal antibody means an antibody against one thing,” said infectious disease specialist, Dr. Steve Parker.

According to Dr. Parker, the current treatments are based on the original virus and because it is constantly changing it can be difficult for the antibody to recognize it.

“They don’t always work as well,” said Dr. Parker.

From the available treatments, Sotrovimab recognizes the Omicron variant better than Regeneron. However, deciding on a treatment can be tricky because identifying what variant a patient has requires time.

“There’s no way of knowing when I look at you versus the person sitting next to you and you both have the same symptoms. I can’t tell that quickly, and this monoclonal antibody treatment needs to be given within a specific period of time,” said Dr. Parker. “The longer you wait to give the monoclonal antibody, the more chance the virus has to replicate and produce a disease that might be worse in somebody.”

With time being so crucial, Dr. Parker says physicians have to make an educated guess on which monoclonal antibody to give.

“It might work and if we have enough of it to use, then we should use it. It might not work because it’s not going to identify your antigen, which is your version of the virus. It might not work because it’s too late in your illness,” said Dr. Parker. “It might not work because you’re a high-risk person. It might work because you had COVID before and you got some partial immunity and this is going to build on top of it. So there are numerous variables that will determine whether this works.”

He adds the main goal is to save lives and asks the community to use common sense and take care of themselves.

If you have any questions it is recommended you consult with a medical professional.

As of Wednesday, January 12 hospitals still had supply of antibody treatments, but not a huge amount.

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