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Health systems short on monoclonal antibody supply

The rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant is placing a strain on monoclonal antibody infusion treatments for eligible patients.
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 4:13 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant is placing a strain on monoclonal antibody infusion treatments for eligible patients, and health systems are having to prioritize those who need it the most.

The Omicron variant has rendered two of the three therapies used in monoclonal antibody infusions ineffective against the strain, leaving only one option from GSK remaining.

“With the Omicron strain, we’re down to one, and that’s called Sotrovimab. And that’s the only one that really has any clinical effectiveness against the Omicron strain at this point in time.” said Avera Health Family Physician Dr. Chad Thury.

The reduction in supply is forcing both Avera Health and Sanford Health to prioritize eligible patients with the highest risk of severe illness first for infusions. While not everyone eligible is getting antibody treatment, their supplies can only go so far.

“What our teams are doing is working hard, to try and identify those at the highest risk for severe disease or hospitalization related to COVID, to make sure that we’re targeting the highest risk patients.” said Sanford Health Executive Director of Pharmacy Jesse Breidenbach.

“The reality is, is those are patients that are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, or patients that are fully vaccinated but yet they have significant immunocompromised.” said Thury.

One tool that hospitals do have at their disposal are the antiviral pills from both Pfizer and Merck as another form of outpatient therapy. Although Breidenbach said those are still in short supply.

“The federal government did purchase a large supply of that. We just still haven’t seen the quantities of that therapy really start to flow in like we expect to see. Maybe later in February or early March. We just wish we were getting that increased supply now.” said Breidenbach.

Breidenbach said along with the antiviral pills, they’re hoping to receive an increased amount of antibody infusion supply soon, as the federal government has purchased more to distribute.

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