COVID-19 Treatments and Prophylaxis (Prevention)

Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. Some of the same things you do to treat other respiratory infections — getting plenty of rest, hydration, nutrition and taking pain medications to relieve fever and aches and pains — also help with COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also authorized the emergency use of antibody therapies and anti-viral medications with priority to people at the highest risk for hospitalization or death.

Below are common questions about COVID-19 therapies and medication, in addition to who is eligible to receive treatment.

What is monoclonal antibody treatment for people who have tested positive for COVID-19?

When you have a virus, your immune system creates antibodies to help fight off the virus. Monoclonal antibody drug therapy contains man-made antibodies that are similar (clones) to the antibodies your immune system makes. Antibody therapy for people that have tested positive for COVID-19, is an investigational medicine for people that meet certain criteria. The drug is given through a vein (intravenous or IV) in one dose for 20 to 30 minutes. The total appointment takes about 2 to 3 hours.

Some names for antibody therapy drugs administered to people with COVID-19 infection may include bamlanivimab plus etesevimab or casirivimab plus imdevimab or sotrovimab.

What are anti-viral treatments?

Anti-viral treatments are oral medications (pills) that stop the coronavirus from replicating. Oral anti-viral pills are investigational medicine for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and meet certain criteria.

Names for oral anti-viral drugs include molnupiravir (Lagevrio) or nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid).

Who may be eligible for monoclonal antibody and oral anti-viral treatment option?

Patients who test positive for COVID-19, have mild to moderate symptoms, and are not hospitalized or requiring new oxygen therapy or an increase in oxygen therapy due to COVID-19 may be eligible for this treatment option. Patients also must have risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 that results in hospitalization or death.

TreatmentAgeHow soon after first symptoms must therapy be started?
Monoclonal antibody12 years of olderWithin 10 days
nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) 12 years of older Within 5 days
molnupiravir (Lagevrio) 12 years of older Within 5 days

What factors may put you at high risk?

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic lung disease (asthma, bronchiectasis, COPD, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension)
  • Dementia or other neurological condition
  • Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart condition (heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • HIV infection
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from an inflammatory or autoimmune disease or immunosuppressive medicine
  • Mental health condition (mood disorder, depression, schizophrenia)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Smoking, current or former
  • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
  • Substance use disorder (such as alcohol, opioid or cocaine use disorder)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (for example, cerebral palsy) or other conditions that confer medical complexity (for example, genetic or metabolic syndromes and severe congenital anomalies)
  • Medical-related technological dependence (for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID 19)

What is pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) monoclonal antibody treatment?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis monoclonal antibody drug therapy is a preventative treatment given to people who are not currently infected with COVID-19 and who have not recently been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.  The investigational drug is given to people that meet certain criteria through intramuscular injections. Preventative monoclonal antibody treatment is for vaccinated patients with weakened immune systems or those unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons who do not have COVID-19 infection.

Names for prophylaxis (prevention) monoclonal antibody therapy drugs include tixagevimab/cilgavimab (Evusheld).

Are antibody therapies and anti-viral medications the same as a COVID-19 vaccine?

Treatments and vaccines can help offer protection from COVID-19, but they are different. Antibody therapy and anti-viral medications can help a patient who is sick with COVID-19 fight off the infection. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) is not a substitute for vaccination for people that COVID-19 vaccination is recommended. A COVID-19 vaccine offers protection from future viruses but cannot treat a patient who is already sick.

Are these COVID-19 antibody and anti-viral drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of these drug therapies only during the COVID-19 pandemic. This authorization is different than FDA approval. These drugs are investigational and still being studied, so there is limited information known at this time about their safety and effectiveness.

Who should I contact if I’m interested in receiving COVID-19 treatment?

Right now, there is a high demand and an extremely limited supply of all COVID-19 treatments, including monoclonal antibody infusions (i.e., sotrovimab), and oral therapies (i.e, Paxlovid, molnupiravir), so priority is being given to individuals at the very highest risk of serious illness or death.

IF you are positive for COVID-19 infection and want to submit a request for UW Health supply, please click here to complete our online survey form.

If you need assistance completing the online survey form, you can call our hotline at (608) 720-3319. The fastest way to be considered is by submitting the online survey form. Please be aware that we are experiencing extremely high call volume with delays likely.

Completing the survey or calling the hotline does not guarantee treatment will be provided. If you meet the criteria for treatment options and treatment is available, you will be contacted by UW Health directly. Please do not call multiple times. If you do not receive a call back, this means that we are, unfortunately, unable to provide you therapy.

Who should I contact if I’m interested in pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) antibody treatment?

Patients interested in preventative monoclonal antibody treatment should contact the provider managing their condition or current prescription that weakens their immune system. There is also an extremely limited supply of Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab) so priority is being given to individuals at the very highest risk of serious illness or death. The Evusheld preventative treatment can only be obtained through a physician prescription, and it is not a substitute for vaccination.

Sotrovimab Fact Sheet for Patients, Parents and Caregivers (pdf)

Molnupiravir Fact Sheet for Patients, Parents and Caregivers (pdf)

Paxlovid Fact Sheet for Patients, Parents and Caregivers (pdf)

Evusheld Fact Sheet for Patients, Parents and Caregivers (pdf)