UNC Doctors: Monoclonal Antibodies Show Promising Results In Treating COVID-19

Oct 8, 2020

Credit UNC Health Care / UNC Health Care

Doctors at UNC-Chapel Hill say early studies of monoclonal antibody therapies show promising results in treating COVID-19.

Monoclonal antibodies can be synthetically produced and theoretically help patients' immune systems fight the virus. UNC is one of the institutions participating in a nationwide study of COVID-19 therapeutics.

Dr. David Wohl helps lead the respiratory diagnostic center at UNC Hospitals. He said the goal of developing these treatments is to safely give them to people in outpatient settings.

“Because that's where you really want to use a therapeutic,” Wohl said. “By the time someone ends up in the hospital, you're rescuing them. What I really want to do is find a treatment that prevents people from needing hospitalization and maybe prevents their shedding of the virus to other people.”

President Donald J. Trump received an experimental cocktail of monoclonal antibodies when he was hospitalized with COVID-19 this past weekend.

Wohl said the study is also considering other treatments like antiviral drugs to figure out what's most effective.

He and other doctors at UNC Health are still urging North Carolinians to continue wearing masks and be wary of their activity as new cases of COVID-19 slowly rise. The percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive has been increasing over the past two weeks, since shortly before the state moved to Phase 3 of reopening. 

Wohl pointed out COVID-19 cases have surged in other parts of the world as people begin to move around more often.

“So, I think that we're sending mixed messages,” he said. “We want to see the pandemic go away, but at the same time we're not taking the really tough measures we need to, and difficult measures. I get it. There's a lot of sacrifice involved here to save people's lives, but I think that's what we should be doing.”

Parts of the UK and other European countries have closed some businesses again after experiencing a sharp resurgence of cases. In the past week, North Carolina health officials have reported the highest numbers of new daily cases since July.