Letter to the Editor:  COVID-19 & Medical Information                 

I am fascinated by irony in my life and witnessing it in our communities. We are a fickle species.

While listening respectfully to some people’s concern while protesting COVID vaccine,  I have heard statements like “it is against my religion which does not allow me to put something in my body made from fetal tissue”. “It is the Mark of the Beast”, “it is not FDA approved”, “It may make me sick”.

The cell line quoted to me by one of these protestors was HEK 293 which is now thousands of generations removed from the original fetal cells. Over the counter drugs tested on HEK-293 cells include Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Benadryl, Sudafed, Claritin, Robitussin, Mucinex, Pepto-Bismol, Ivermectin, Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine. Many more can be found in cosmetic products and flavoring compounds.

There is no fetal tissue in vaccines. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna do not require the use of any fetal cell cultures to manufacture (produce) the vaccine.

Meanwhile, monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy, also called monoclonal antibody infusion treatment, is a way of treating COVID-19 prior to hospitalization. The goal of this therapy is to help prevent hospitalizations, reduce viral loads, and lessen symptom severity in an individual.

The effectiveness of the antibody therapy, Regeneron, was tested by employing a fetal tissue cell line from the 1980s widely used in biomedical research, according to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, its manufacturer.

The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) for monoclonal antibody therapy. Isn’t this what COVID vaccine protestors are saying was not good enough?

Many people declining COVID vaccine, and now struggling with COVID symptoms, are happy to take monoclonal antibody therapy.

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system. There are 4 different ways they can be made and are named based on what they are made of.

Murine: These are made from mouse proteins and the names of the treatments end in –omab.

Chimeric: These proteins are a combination of part mouse and part human and the names of the treatments end in –ximab.

Humanized: These are made from small parts of mouse proteins attached to human proteins and the names of the treatments end in –zumab

Human: These are fully human proteins, and the names of the treatments end in -umab.

Hence, the names: Casirivimab and Imdevimab, Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab, Sotrovimab, and Tocilizumab.

Monoclonal antibodies are given intravenously (injected into a vein). The antibodies themselves are proteins, so giving them can sometimes cause something like an allergic reaction. This is more common while the drug is first being given. Possible side effects can include:

Fever, chills, weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, chest pain, low blood pressure, confusion, rashes and more.

I hear no yelling or religious concerns from antivaxxers about monoclonal antibodies. I don’t see people clamoring to quit their jobs for religious reasons if they are COVID positive and need monoclonal antibody treatments; nor are they concerned about side effects or possibly getting sick from it. They are lining up to receive them instead.

While monoclonal antibodies can lessen the viral load in an individual, it will not stop the spread of COVID 19 in our communities!  I think of monoclonal antibodies as guided missiles that target and neutralize the virus. But they don’t stick around. While monoclonal antibodies are effective for about a month, they are long gone 6 months later, when a COVID vaccine offers significant protection. And COVID vaccine is free.

If we want to interrupt the mutation and spread of COVID 19, vaccine is still the best way to do it.

For the future, it will be interesting to follow studies regarding how effective vaccines are in someone who has previously received an antibody treatment for a COVID-19 infection, or whether the antibody treatment could interfere with your body’s own immune response to a vaccine. We are in the middle of a global experiment that will require ongoing study.


Kris Stokke
SE Region Emergency Preparedness & Response Planner

Filed Under: Letters to the Editor

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