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Treating Children Who Have COVID-19 With Antibodies

Treating Children Who Have COVID-19 With Antibodies

This article is for the parents and caregivers of children who have COVID-19, or anyone who wants to learn more about COVID-19. The goals of this patient education activity are to help you better understand antibodies to treat COVID-19 in children and talk with your child's doctor about their use.

You will learn about:

  • How COVID-19 can affect the body

  • Conditions that can put children at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19

  • Your immune system and antibodies

  • Antibodies that may be used to treat certain children who have COVID-19

  • Questions to ask your doctor

Medicines listed in this activity have either a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval or have been given an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA to treat or prevent COVID-19.

The information on COVID-19 is continually changing. The content in this activity is accurate based on the information that was available at the time of its publication. This resource is provided for educational and informational purposes only. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Test Your Knowledge

How COVID-19 Can Affect the Body

Anyone can get COVID-19, including both children and adults. Many people will have mild or no symptoms and can recover at home fairly quickly. But for some, COVID-19 can be severe and even deadly.

COVID-19 can be especially dangerous for children and adults who have certain health conditions, as well as older adults and people who are pregnant or smoke.

Conditions That Can Put Children and Adults at a Higher Risk

Conditions that can put children and adults at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • Obesity or being overweight

  • Asthma and certain chronic (long-term) lung conditions

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes

  • Certain heart conditions

  • Chronic kidney or liver disease

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Cancer

  • Down syndrome

  • Having a weakened immune system

All conditions are not listed here -- talk to your doctor to see if you or your child may be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Anyone Can Have Long-Lasting Effects

COVID-19 can damage many different organs and body systems. Because of this, anyone at any age can have complications (additional problems) and symptoms from COVID-19 that may be long lasting.

Some people, mostly children, can have a health condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS, during or after COVID-19 whether it's mild or severe. MIS causes inflammation (swelling) of many different organs and can result in long-lasting health conditions and symptoms including fatigue (tiredness), headache, trouble sleeping, problems with concentration, muscle and joint pain, and cough.

How Your Immune System and Antibodies Protect You

When you're exposed to an outside invader, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, your body's natural defense system -- your immune system -- works to protect you. It activates special Y-shaped proteins called antibodies to attack the invader and fight off infection.

A virus needs to attach to and enter, or infect, healthy cells so it can reproduce (make more viruses). Many antibodies work by binding to the areas on a virus that it uses to do this. This is how the antibody can stop -- or neutralize -- the virus and protect your healthy cells from being infected. These are called neutralizing antibodies.

Natural, Monoclonal, and Neutralizing Antibodies

Antibodies can be natural (made by your body) or monoclonal (made in a lab from natural sources). Monoclonal antibodies are developed to attack invaders like natural antibodies do. Neutralizing antibodies can be natural or monoclonal.

Certain neutralizing monoclonal antibodies have been made to treat COVID-19. They work by binding to areas on the virus that causes COVID-19, stopping it from attaching to and entering, or infecting, your cells.

Monoclonal Antibodies to Treat COVID-19

Certain monoclonal antibodies have been authorized by the FDA to treat COVID-19 in certain children and adults who meet all of the following:

  • Have mild to moderate COVID-19


  • Are not hospitalized (not sick enough to be in the hospital)


  • Are at a high risk for getting severe COVID-19, the need to be hospitalized, or death

Certain treatments for COVID-19 also may or may not be recommended depending on which variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 may be causing illness.

Possible Side Effects

All medicines can have side effects. Some that may happen with monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 can include:

  • Allergic reaction during or after the medicine being given

  • A reaction at the spot where the medicine was given by IV (into a vein), such as brief pain, bleeding, bruising, soreness, swelling, and possible infection

These are not all possible side effects. Not many people have used these medicines. Serious and unexpected side effects may happen. All of the risks are not known at this time.

Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibodies Work Differently

Vaccines for COVID-19 are given to try to prevent infection or more severe disease. Once given, the vaccine will trigger your immune system to make antibodies that will stay in your body. This can help you build protection (immunity) against a future infection if you're exposed later.

Monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 work differently than vaccines do. They are given after infection to help treat COVID-19.


Talking to Your Child’s Doctor

If you think your child has been exposed to COVID-19, contact your doctor right away. If monoclonal antibodies are recommended as treatment, they should be given as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 viral test and often within 7 days of symptoms starting.

Treatment will also depend on your child's age, weight, and which variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 is likely causing their illness.

Dr Todd Wolynn talks about monoclonal antibodies as a possible treatment option for certain children who have COVID-19.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Questions you can ask your child's doctor can include:

  • What should I do if my child is exposed to COVID-19?

  • What symptoms should I look for?

  • Is my child at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19?

  • If my child has COVID-19, what treatments are available, how well do they work, and what are their possible side effects?

  • If my child already had COVID-19 and/or the COVID-19 vaccine, is treatment still an option for them?

  • Where can I find more information or additional resources?

Test Your Knowledge

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You have successfully completed the program: Treating Children Who Have COVID-19 With Antibodies

View Additional Materials on this topic that you may find useful:

Families and Children

COVID-19: People With Certain Medical Conditions

Treatments Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend if You Are Sick

What Are Monoclonal Antibodies?

FAQs About Monoclonal Antibodies

Don't Delay: Test Soon and Treat Early

Authors and Disclosures


Todd Wolynn, MD

Kids Plus Pediatrics
Pittsburg, PA
Disclosure: Todd Wolynn, MD, MMM, has the following relevant financial relationships:
Consultant or advisor for: Merck; Novavax; Sanofi.
Speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Merck; Sanofi.

Clinician Reviewer

Karen Badal, MD, MPH

Senior Medical Education Director, Medscape, LLC.

Disclosure: Karen Badal, MD, MPH, has no relevant financial relationships.


Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh

Associate Director, Content Development, Medscape, LLC.

Disclosure: Anita A. Galdieri, PharmD, RPh, has no relevant financial relationships.


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