Regeneron, similar COVID-19 treatments sit unused but could help, Tennessee officials say

Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey has her temperature taken by Scott Wyatt, left, of the Tennessee Department of Health as Piercey arrives for a news conference concerning the state's response to the coronavirus Monday, March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee officials are trying to raise awareness about monoclonal antibodies, a potentially life-saving treatment designed to keep high-risk COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate illness out of the hospital.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of two different monoclonal antibody treatments, bamlanivimab and casirivimab/imdevimab. The latter, developed by the biotech company Regeneron, rose to fame when President Trump received - and praised - the experimental drug after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early October.

The drugs work by mimicking the antibodies that target the coronavirus, preventing it from spreading throughout the body, but must be given early in the disease process and aren't for use in hospitalized patients.

During a news briefing last week, Gov. Bill Lee touted the drugs and urged Tennesseans age 65 and over and those with multiple chronic conditions to ask their medical provider about monoclonal antibodies upon receipt of a positive COVID-19 test.