Monoclonal antibodies could ease record Covid hospitalizations. Why are they going unused?

“This is the first time during the pandemic that I can recall when our resources far exceed demand.”

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Nurse Janet Gilleran treats a coronavirus patient, Mike Mokler, with bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody, in at Tufts Medical Center in Boston on Dec. 31.Craig F. Walker / Boston Globe via Getty Images file

A drug that could protect high-risk Covid-19 patients from developing severe illness is sitting on shelves unused as a record number of people are hospitalized in the U.S.

On Thursday, public health officials at the federal and state levels pleaded with the country to take advantage of its vast supply of monoclonal antibody treatments, the only available therapy that can potentially keep patients out of the hospital.

“This is the first time during the pandemic that I can recall when our resources far exceed demand,” Dr. William Fales, medical director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday during a media briefing organized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fales estimated that just 10 percent of Covid-19 patients in the state who are eligible for the therapy had received it.


Another factor may be lack of awareness, among both patients and providers, that the treatments are available.

During a media briefing Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar put the onus for pursuing monoclonal antibodies on patients, who “should be asking their doctors or health care providers why they aren’t being offered these antibody therapies.”

However, HHS’ online tool provides little assistance to those trying to find monoclonal antibody resources. The site has no data for people in at least 31 states, including Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Washington.

A spokesperson for HHS said Thursday that the team is working “as rapidly as possible” to update the site and that it expects more resources to be available by next week.

Read the Full Article on NBC News

Further Information:

 New England Journal of Medicine, January 21, 2020

Monoclonal antibodies could ease record Covid hospitalizations. Why are they going unused?
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