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Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and Other High-Risk Patients Who Test Positive for COVID-19

This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.

Revised: March 29, 2021

CLL patients are certainly in the high-risk category if we test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and that is why we need all the help we can get.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) work against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Monoclonal antibody infusions have been proven to decrease the risk of serious infection in high-risk patients (such as those of us with chronic lymphocytic leukemia) when given within the first 10 days of a positive COVID-19 test.

These potent antibodies bind to the spike (S) protein and neutralize the virus by preventing it from entering and infecting cells.

In those of us with CLL, there are concerns that our immune system may not be up to the task of clearing out the virus completely, or the process of doing so may be very slow and inefficient.

When we use mAbs, we are not waiting for our own “active” immune system to rev up and build immunity. Rather, we are borrowing someone else’s potent ability to quickly fight off the infection, which is called “passive” immunity.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is broadly available, but you need to know where to find it.

Fortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has provided a helpful webpage to help find mAb infusion locations nearby, should the need arise. The website to find a map of mAb infusion locations can be found here: Monoclonal Antibodies for High-Risk COVID-19 Positive Patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorized revised fact sheets for health care providers to include additional information on the susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 variants to each of the monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies that are available through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). For details, see: FDA authorizes revisions to fact sheets to address SARS-CoV-2 variants for monoclonal antibody products under emergency use authorization.

Let’s hope we never need the antibodies but if we do, it’s best to know where you can fund them and which ones are most likely to help in your locale.

Monoclonal neutralizing antibodies are also being studied in trials before we get sick with the novel coronavirus. For more on passive and active immunity and trials to prevent COVID-19, please read Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Patients and Protection against COVID-19: Passive and Active Immunity, Monoclonal Antibodies and Vaccines.

Stay strong. We are all in this together.

Brian Koffman MDCM (retired) MS Ed
Co-Founder, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.