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As Omicron variant surges, states...

As Omicron variant surges, states experience shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments

By: Anne Summerhays - December 30, 2021

Mississippi among the states experiencing a lag. 

In a December press briefing, President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said that another 300,000 doses of Sotrovimab would be available to states in January. The federal government also plans to send states around 3.3 million combined doses of the antiviral pills from Merck and Pfizer.

This announcement comes as many states across the country find themselves lacking COVID-19 treatments and tests.

On Monday, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement saying, “The federal government controls the distribution of monoclonal antibodies, and the regional infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have exhausted their supply of sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody effective against the COVID-19 Omicron variant, due to the national shortage from the federal government. They will not be able to offer it until federal authorities ship additional courses of sotrovimab to Texas in January.”

Alongside Texas, states such as New York, Maine, and others are experiencing a shortage, including Mississippi.

In a statement by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response, the organization explained that the “federal government’s current supply of sotrovimab is extremely limited, and additional doses of the product will not be available until the week of January 3rd.”

They recommend that locales continue use of the bam/ete and REGEN-COV monoclonal antibody products while reserving sotrovimab for treatment of eligible outpatients at highest risk who are either diagnosed with a test that may identify a potential case of the Omicron variant or are present in local settings where reported prevalence of Omicron is greater than 20%.

Recently, the Biden Administration paused distribution of two out of the three available monoclonal antibody treatments proving inefficient against the Omicron variant, those being the Eli Lilly and Regeneron treatments.

The one monoclonal antibody treatment that has performed well against Omicron is sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology.

Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo wrote a letter on Tuesday accusing the Biden Administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution” of monoclonal antibodies by pausing two of the available antibody treatments.

“The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a health care provider’s ability to decide the best options for their patients in this state,” Ladapo wrote in the letter posted by CBS12’s Jay O’Brien. “This shortsightedness is especially evident given that the federal government effectively prohibited states from purchasing these monoclonal antibodies and serving their populations directly.”

On Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) held a press briefing to discuss the current situation of COVID-19 in the state and discussed the lack of monoclonal antibody treatments and COVID-19 tests.

During the briefing, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer, warned that Mississippi does not have much of the monoclonal treatments available right now and most of the monoclonal treatments they have are not effective against Omicron.

Dobbs said that Sotrovimab and Paxlovid monoclonal treatments will be coming to the state soon.

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: