COVID-19, Omicron, and Monoclonal Antibodies
Recently my husband developed symptoms of a bad cold. He used the home antigen test, also referred to as the rapid test, to check for COVID-19 infection. It was positive. We were shocked, as I am sure many others have been, who like us, have followed all the medical advice to avoid getting infected.
Since my husband was vaccinated and had a booster shot, he has what is known as a breakthrough infection. And, because the rapid test does not indicate which variant is causing the infection, we presume it is the omicron variant. His physician ordered monoclonal antibody therapy. He is now recovering. Since COVID-19 is front and center in my life, I thought it a good time to revisit it on the blog.
To begin, let’s look at the two terms omicron and monoclonal antibodies because they are in common use now. And, since the content of previous blog posts on the coronavirus is still relevant, we will reintroduce them here as well.
Omicron and Monoclonal Antibodies
Omicron (AH-muh-kron) or (OH-muh-kron) is a COVID-19 variant that emerged in South Africa. It was named omicron in November 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Naming: WHO announced in May 2021 it would use the letters of the Greek alphabet to name COVID-19 variants of concern; their thinking was using the Greek alphabet to name variants would allow for easier communication and avoid stigmatizing geographical regions. Omikron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet It was first used in the 15th Century and is spelled omicron in English.
Omicron is the fifth variant of concern named by the WHO, following Delta, Gamma, Beta, and Alpha.
Monoclonal antibodies (ma-nuh- klow-nal) (an-ti-ba dees) are laboratory-produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies that can restore, enhance, or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells.
Monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 may block the virus that causes the infection from attaching to human cells, making it more difficult for the virus to reproduce and cause harm.
Naming: Monoclonal antibodies are named based on a specific structure developed by the International Nonproprietary Names Working Group, under the direction of the World Health Organization. This structure consists of a prefix, substem A, substem B, and suffix.
History: The first monoclonal antibody was generated in 1975 and the first monoclonal antibody was fully licensed in 1986. They are a class of medicines that have transformed the way we prevent and treat diseases such as cancer, viral infection, and diseases of the immune system.
Previous Published Blog Posts on COVID-19
To help you sort through all the confusion and complexity of COVID-19 testing, read the blog post. Learn the types of tests, when they are used, and the medical terms that surround them.
A newly discovered coronavirus and the disease it causes was officially named in February 2020. COVID-19 is the disease. SARS-CoV-2 is the causative virus.
Read the comparison chart of these two infectious respiratory diseases.