Doctors, hospitals say life-saving COVID treatment insufficient due to ineffectiveness against new variant
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Life-saving monoclonal antibody treatment is now rare.
It comes as state health officials sound the alarm bells about a fifth wave of COVID-19.
Health experts say it’s not so much that there is a shortage of monoclonal drugs but more than the supply that do exist is not effective against this new variant.
“Omicron threw a pretty horrible curveball in the sense that our most commonly available monoclonal drugs don’t work against Omicron,” state health official Thomas Dobbs said.
Monoclonal antibody treatment, which doctors say helped keep many people out of hospital during the Delta wave, comes in many forms.
There is the Regeneron product, the Eli Lilly product and Sotrovimab. All three are in limited supply and Sotrovimab is the only effective against the Omicron variant.
“We absolutely had one of the really big guns against this virus that has really been taken away from us,” said Dr Steve Threlkeld.
Threlkeld works as Baptist Memorial Health Care Medical Director for Infectious Diseases. He said limited access to treatment is problematic for those who could truly benefit from it.
“There are people who are at a higher risk of more serious illness, hospitalizations and death, and we have to say, ‘Sorry, we really don’t have anything to offer very easily right now,’ he said. -he declares.
UMMC said they were plagued by the same problem.
“We have a low supply of mAB treatments, and when we get a new offering, including the treatment that works on the Omicron variant of COVID-19, we expect to receive a limited quantity. “
St. Dominic said they also see a limited supply.
“The demand for COVID tests and treatments has increased dramatically in recent weeks. So far, we have been able to meet the demand for treatment from individuals with minimal criteria. If trends continue, we will likely have to (more) prioritize treatments for those most at risk for serious illness from COVID-19. The environment is changing rapidly as the Omicron variant becomes more common here in Mississippi, and we are adjusting the antibody treatment to use those that are more effective with this variant. “
Dr Threlkeld said there should be more Sotrovimab around the second week of January. However, he said they didn’t have a large market share to start with, so even with production ramping up, supply will likely be limited.
“It won’t be the kind of thing a healthy 55-year-old would get even if he could have qualified,” he said. “It will probably be limited to people who have a higher propensity to have this serious disease.”
Threlkeld said the vaccine is especially important given the shortage of monoclonal drugs and the new variant.
“Omicron infects so many people that – though it might be inherently a little less deadly – if you get something that’s half the deadly, but it’s twice as much, those things can kind of cancel each other out.” , did he declare. .
He also said that a new oral medication is expected to come out within days which has proven to be effective in reducing serious illnesses. The only downside is that it doesn’t interact well with other drugs.
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