How COVID-19 Testing, Vaccines Effect Monoclonal Antibody Use


An Allegheny Health expert gives perspective on how the proven regimen plays a role amid the Omicron outbreaks, and increased vaccination and testing.

The Biden administration announced plans to provide free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans only a few weeks ago. The decision followed a growing criticism from the public and medical experts that tests are more greatly needed to mitigate the pandemic’s spread—and came only days before significant outbreaks driven by the Omicron variant began being reported throughout the country.

As the US will enter 2022 with better resources to detect and lessen the spread of currently rampant COVID-19, clinicians are still looking to understand the absolute value of vaccines and more testing provide the rate of severe disease in the pandemic.

In the next segment of an interview with HCPLive, Amy Crawford-Faucher, MD, Vice Chair of the Primary Care Institute & Family Medicine at Allegheny Health Network, discussed how monoclonal antibody treatment for at-risk adults with early COVID-19 will be benefitted by greater testing and continued vaccination.

The federal rollout of less accurate antigen testing kits may not change her team’s work or resourcing at all, she explained. In fact, she is more worried about a greater rate of Americans defining their behavior by false negatives from antigen tests.

“Because the people we’re prioritizing the most are at such high risk, if they have symptoms that could be classic and they have a positive test of any kind, that’s good enough for us to give the therapy,” Crawford-Faucher said. “One negative test is really not enough to assure us, so I think that’s going to be interesting to see how that evolves people’s behavior during this flu and COVID-19 season.”

Regarding vaccination, Crawford-Faucher said she personally hasn’t seen enough firsthand instances to interpret differences in outcomes among vaccinated and unvaccinated persons being treated for COVID-19 severity risk with monoclonal antibodies. Rather, she advocated for booster doses in persons fully vaccinated ≥6 months ago, as this population is most frequently the ones experience breakthrough infections that result under her care.

Lastly, Crawford-Faucher discussed interest in further advancement of subcutaneous monoclonal antibodies, the promise of newly authorized “game changer” antiviral pills for COVID-19, and the ongoing assessment of available therapies versus the Omicron variant. In the meant time, she stressed clinicians “not go rogue” on proven effective therapies at a time of high stakes n the pandemic.

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