One of the promising treatments for patients with COVID 19 infections, especially those that are at high risk for severe disease, is a treatment called monoclonal antibodies. This term means that the antibodies against the virus can be collected and given to patients with disease. Monoclonal means they derive from a single colony of antibodies specifically directed at the COVID 19 virus, and no other infections. They are specific for COVID 19.
They were initially very effective, and are still being used whenever possible. In a previous article, I discussed the problem that variants present to our immune system. Current vaccines may not produce immunity to some variants because the virus has changed in protein structure, specifically the so-called “spike protein”. These variations in the spike protein have rendered some of the initial monoclonal antibodies ineffective. At one point several monoclonal antibodies were combined in an antibody cocktail. At least one of these cocktails became so ineffective that the National Institutes of Health recommended against its use. There are still two monoclonal combinations available which have Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.
However, some areas of the spike protein do not vary. Antibodies that can be developed to attack these regions may provide a life-saving treatment for all COVID variants and, as I have indicated in a previous article, vaccines which can mobilize our immune systems to attack these same unvarying areas on the spike protein may finally give us a weapon to control this pandemic for good.