Evusheld, a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, is a PREVENTATIVE treatment for people who have compromised immune systems AND for people with life threatening allergies to COVID-19 vaccines.
The supply is very limited! COVID-19 vaccinations remain the first line treatment to prevent infection and complications.
❓What is Evusheld?
This is a PREVENTATIVE treatment, meaning you take it BEFORE you are exposed or infected with COVID-19. The treatment is called a pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The treatment provides protection for 6 months and can be administered repeatedly. Evusheld is actually two different monoclonal antibodies – Tixagevimab and Cilgavimab for our super nerds. The antibodies are given as two intramuscular injections at the same time. The antibodies prevent infection and severe illness for 6 months by binding with different portions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to prevent entry into cells, so the virus can’t replicate.
❓Who is it for?
Evusheld provides protection to people who otherwise have very few options to prevent COVID-19 infection and complications. Evusheld is for people over the age of 12 with moderately compromised immune systems and people who have severe allergies to the COVID-19 vaccine. People with a medical condition or on medications that weaken the immune system may not respond to vaccinations, leaving them at high risk for COVID-19 infection, severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Evusheld is also safe for the small number of people who experience anaphylaxis to COVID-19 vaccines or the ingredients in the vaccine. Evusheld can be taken if you already had a COVID-19 vaccine.
Examples of medications that cause immunocompromise include chemotherapy used to treat cancers. Corticosteroids like Prednisone taken at high doses for more than 2 weeks can reduce inflammation for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or asthma while also weakening the immune system. People who have received an organ transplant to prevent organ rejection and people with inflammatory bowel diseases also take medications that suppress the immune system. You might be surprised by the number of people who are immunocompromised in your personal networks.
❓How well does Evusheld work?
Evusheld is a welcome and useful treatment for some high-risk people with immune systems that do not respond adequately to vaccines. Evusheld was tested in a clinical trial among 5,172 people who were not vaccinated AND had elevated risk of complications from COVID-19. The treatment group was twice as large as the control group. Eight people who received the treatment contracted COVID-19 compared to 17 in the control group who received placebo with similar results replicated in a later study. The medication also reduced severe illness in the treatment group when compared to the control group. The most common reported side effects were headache and fatigue. People in the treatment group demonstrated a higher rate of serious heart events, though all had underlying cardiac conditions prior to the study. There was a decrease in effectiveness against Omicron when compared to Delta in laboratory studies.
Take Home Points:
🎉 YAY for a new treatment to prevent COVID-19 infection and severe disease in our immunocompromised friends and family.
👀 Supply is limited. We hope this increases in the near future.
💉 Vaccines remain the best option to prevent infection and severe disease for people with functioning immune systems.
✋ Evusheld is not authorized to treat COVID-19 during an active infection. It’s preventative.
🏥 Be sure to talk with your health provider if you have questions.
As always, check out some further reading below.