Treatment for COVID-19

Those at lower risk for complications from COVID-19 can treat their symptoms at home in most cases. However, if you or someone you know is at higher risk for more serious illness, there are additional options available at early onset of COVID-19 infection. These treatment options should not replace a COVID-19 Vaccine and we encourage those who can get vaccinated, to get vaccinated. 

Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any COVID-19 therapy to see if this treatment is right for you and which type of treatment you may qualify for. 

To discuss scheduling an appointment for Monoclonal Antibodies, Oral or IV Antivirals or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock, please call (501) 202-4630. We are continuing to assess our medication availability daily.

Providers can provide the phone number of (501) 202-4630 to self-refer for PrEP, oral/IV antiviral or Monoclonal Antibodies or they can complete a referral form for Monoclonal Antibodies and fax it to (501) 202-4635. Oral Antivirals are also available at participating pharmacies as marked by the Arkansas Department of Health and should only be prescribed by those authorized to write these prescriptions.

Adults with risk factors for severe disease, who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have had symptoms for less than 10 days could be candidates for this infusion. Any patient under the age of 18 is not eligible to receive monoclonal antibody treatment at Baptist Health. Monoclonal antibodies are not authorized for patients with an increased O2 requirement.

High-risk categories include:

  • Overweight (Body mass index > 25)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Immunosuppressive disease (Cancer, autoimmune disease, etc)
  • Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, heart disease, etc)
  • COPD/other chronic respiratory disease (asthma, etc)
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorder
  • Medical-related dependence (tracheostomy, PEG, etc)

Other risk factors include race, ethnicity and history of tobacco use as per the CDC.

Treatment Options

Oral or IV Antivirals

For adults with mild to moderate COVID-19.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

For those who are not infected with COVID-19 but are moderately to severely immunocompromised or have a history of severe adverse vaccine reactions.

Monoclonal Antibodies

For treating mild to moderate COVID-19 to prevent hospitalization, reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity.

Oral or IV Antivirals

New antiviral medications have been approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of early COVID-19 infection. These treatments (Paxlovid and Molnupiravir) should be given within the first five days of symptom onset and are for patients who are at high risk of developing further COVID-19. They may only be prescribed for a patient by their physician, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants who are licensed or authorized under state law to prescribe these medications (anti-infectives).

Please contact your primary care provider for a prescription to be sent to a participating pharmacy if you are eligible. All participating pharmacies are listed on the Arkansas Department of Health website.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

Certain monoclonal antibodies (like Tixagevimab/Cilgavimab) can be used for the prevention of COVID-19 by the FDA under EUA that may be used in immunocompromised patients and patients who have a medical contraindication to receiving a vaccine for COVID-19. Medical conditions or treatments that may result in moderate to severe immune compromise and an inadequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination include but are not limited to:

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection (people with HIV and CD4 cell counts

Monoclonal Antibodies

Early Treatment & Post-Exposure Prophylaxis with Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies (like REGEN-CoV, Sotrovimab or Bamlanivimab- Etesevimab) are investigational medicines that are used for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19. Due to limited supplies of monoclonal antibodies, we may limited availability and reserve monoclonal antibodies for high-risk patients who otherwise don’t qualify for oral or IV antiviral medicine.

It is meant to be given to patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and are at less than 10 days of symptom onset. Monoclonal antibody treatment can be used for those who are at high risk for severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death for:

  • Treatment of mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. To be eligible, patients must:
    • Test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
    • Be within 10 days of the start of their symptoms.
    • Not be hospitalized.
  • Prevention of COVID-19 in people who have had close contact or are at high risk of being in close contact with someone with COVID-19, such as people in the same institutional setting (for example, nursing homes or prisons) where COVID-19 is circulating. To be eligible, people:
    • Must not be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or
    • Are not expected to build up enough of an immune response to the complete COVID-19 vaccination (for example, someone with immunocompromising conditions, including someone who is taking immunosuppressive medications).

Monoclonal antibodies target a specific virus or bacteria. They attach to the virus to block it from entering human cells, and the monoclonal antibody protein also helps eliminate or clear the virus from the body. Monoclonal antibody therapy received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment or post-exposure prevention of COVID-19.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is administered as a one-time IV infusion or it can be given as four subcutaneous injections.

Some recipients of monoclonal antibody infusion may experience short-term side effects such as nausea and dizziness. Mild-to-severe allergic reactions are possible but uncommon. If you experience new or worsening symptoms after infusion, seek immediate medical attention.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the benefit of receiving monoclonal antibodies may be greater than the risk of using the treatment. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with your healthcare provider about your options.

The medication is free of charge, however, there is a cost to administer the treatment. Fees will be billed to a patient’s insurance provider. Check with your insurance provider for more information. The out-of-pocket cost for treatment at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock is $292.50.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days after receiving monoclonal antibody infusion for the treatment of COVID-19.