Understanding Covid-19 Treatments

A Brief Explanation from Rush Memorial Hospital

When researchers first found treatments that could attack the virus that causes Covid-19 itself, these treatments were in very short supply. They were only available on a limited basis in major hospitals where the outbreak was the most severe. They were totally unavailable in small rural hospitals. Fortunately, this is no longer true. Three of these treatments are currently being used at RMH.

“Monoclonal antibodies” are used to treat patients who have been sick for less than 10 days and do not require hospitalization. These patients have symptoms that are “mild to moderate”.  If the patient is in a high-risk group, monoclonal antibodies may be given even when the patient is not exhibiting any symptoms, but has had a positive Covid-19 test.

At RMH we use three different monoclonal antibodies. Antibodies are substances that are normally produced by the body in order to combat disease. Monoclonal antibodies are produced in a lab.

Monoclonal antibodies are given using an “infusion” or IV that is inserted directly into a blood vessel. It takes about an hour to give them and they are administered at the RMH Infusion Clinic. Here patients can relax, watch TV, read a book or listen to music. Many patients who receive monoclonal antibodies report feeling better within 24 hours.

“Remdesivir” is an antiviral medication that is given to hospitalized patients only. It is used to treat patients with moderate to severe symptoms. This drug stops virus production.

“Convalescent plasma” is blood plasma that has been taken from the blood of a patient who has recovered from Covid-19. It contains antibodies that were made by the body of the recovered patient. These antibodies help the patient who receives the plasma to fight off the virus. Convalescent plasma also is only given to hospitalized patients.

Monoclonal antibodies, remdesivir, and convalescent plasma do not necessarily work for every situation. However, each of these treatments represents a great step forward in the treatment of Covid-19.