Over the last two years, COVID-19 has devastated the health and wellness of the nation by causing more than 800,000 deaths and 50 million cases. Since the start of the pandemic, scientists and researchers around the world have been working to find ways to help slow down transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Due to advancements in science and technology, there is at least one highly effective way to help prevent severe sickness, hospitalization, and death from the virus—COVID-19 vaccines.
Other potential COVID-19 interventions are currently underway. Some of these are undergoing clinical trials and safety reviews, or are under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration. Until these treatments and interventions are thoroughly vetted, there are limited measures available that help protect against getting ill from COVID-19.
While the best way to protect yourself from the virus is vaccination, there are many interventions that don't provide protection against COVID-19 and can be harmful to your health. Talk to your health care provider about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 before taking any kind of at-home treatments.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most highly effective—and widely available—way to prevent serious illness from the virus. Three COVID-19 vaccines are available in the United States. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Just like with all available vaccines, side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine are possible but rare. The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh any known and potential risks.
Booster shots are recommended for everyone who is eligible to receive one. This additional dose helps the body maintain a higher level of immunity and protection against breakthrough infections, which have been reported as more transmissible variants emerge and as immunity decreases over time. People ages 16 and older should get a booster shot at least two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and at least six months after receiving the second dose of a Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Eligible individuals can choose any of the three COVID-19 vaccines as their booster dose.
While medical treatments for COVID-19 are available, they should be prescribed by your health care provider.
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
Monoclonal antibody therapy is used in the early treatment of COVID-19. A person infected with COVID-19 naturally makes antibodies to help fight infection. Monoclonal antibodies are made in a lab to replicate these antibodies that bind to the coronavirus spike protein and block the virus from entering your body's cells. This treatment can be provided to infected COVID-19 patients to prevent them from being hospitalized. Monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb) is given through an IV infusion and is most effective for people 65 and older and people who have underlying medical conditions. You can see if you are eligible for mAb treatment through Utah's Coronavirus Website.
There are currently three monoclonal antibody therapies available. According to clinical trials, these therapies are at least 70% effective in treating non-hospitalized patients infected with COVID-19. Monoclonal antibody therapy is not a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19.
Pre-Prevention Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody therapy by AstraZeneca to prevent COVID-19 in individuals who are unlikely to have a response to COVID-19 vaccines. These antibodies are given to certain individuals who are not infected with SARS-CoV-2. Qualifications for Evusheld include people (12 years and older) who are immunocompromised or can't get a COVID-19 vaccine due to severe allergies. Evusheld is administered in one dose and may prevent COVID-19 infection for six months, according to AstraZeneca's clinical trial. Evusheld was granted EUA on December 8, 2021.
Inpatient COVID-19 Treatments
Other COVID-19 treatments are also available, but only for hospitalized patients that need it most. These drugs, such as remdesivir, dexamethasone, and tocilizumab are some of the treatments that are used. They directly inhibit the virus (antiviral) and help boost the immune system. These treatments are not as effective as COVID-19 vaccines.
What you can do at home
The CDC urges all individuals to continue practicing COVID-19 prevention strategies to help limit transmission and protect people from COVID-19.
Get tested for COVID-19
Regardless of vaccination status, get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing any symptoms. Individuals who are not vaccinated and have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus should get tested immediately. Testing for COVID-19 helps prevent spread of the virus. If you get tested, stay away from others while results are pending.
Stay home when sick
Leaving your home when you are not feeling well is not worth the risk of infecting others, especially those who are at increased risk for severe disease. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home. To help you feel better, get rest, stay hydrated, and take over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen). If your symptoms seem to be getting worse, contact your doctor.
Wear a mask
The CDC recommends everyone two years and older to wear a mask over your nose and mouth in indoor public places. Masks do not need to be worn outdoors, unless in crowded settings. Wearing a mask provides protection and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. Whether it's a disposable or cloth mask, it's important to wear one that fits properly.
Stay at least six feet away from others to protect yourself from getting sick. According to the CDC, the risk of transmission is greatest within three to six feet of an infectious individual. This is where the concentration of droplets and particles is greatest.
Wash your hands
One way to protect yourself from getting sick is to frequently wash your hands, which helps to prevent the spread of infection. The CDC advises washing your hands with soap in clean water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.