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Oklahoma facing shortage of COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments

Monoclonal antibodies
Posted at 8:39 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 23:36:53-05

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma State Department of Health is issuing a warning about its supply of monoclonal antibody treatments as it faces a shortage.

“We’re not getting enough to spread around the state like we feel like we need to to ensure there’s no gap in service," said Keith Reed, interim commissioner of health for the Oklahoma State Dept. of Health.

Reed said he expects the state’s supply of monoclonal antibody treatments to be depleted this month. The treatment is typically reserved for high-risk COVID patients. With the shortage, the state is having to refocus where it’s distributing the treatment.

“At one time we had as many as 130 providers in the state that were providing monoclonal treatments," Reed said. "We don’t have enough to continue to supply that many right now. So, we’re narrowing down to trying to have at least a couple of access points in each of our health districts across the state.”

One of those providers receiving supplies is Council Oak Comprehensive Healthcare in Tulsa where they have a treatment infusion center.

“Our volume has significantly increased as positive cases have increased over the last two weeks," said Lindy Bauer, chief nursing officer for hospital services for Muscogee Nation.

Other hospital systems like Saint Francis and Hillcrest are battling the same issue. On top of the overall shortage, the monoclonal antibody treatment that appears to best fight the omicron variant, called Sotrovimab, is also running low.

Saint Francis tells 2 News Oklahoma in a statement saying in part:

“We are starting to phase out Regen-COV as it has been shown to have diminished potency against the omicron variant. However, we continue to offer Sotrovimab and currently have more demand than doses available.”

Reed said the state is working on getting more treatments, but the shortage reaches nationwide.

Meanwhile, Bauer said they're still offering the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment while waiting on more supply of it and Sotrovimab. They're focusing treatments on patients who have the highest risk.

“We also struggle, like most other facilities, with making sure you have the manpower to run an infusion center," Bauer said. "So, that is a constant priority of ours to increase capacity so that we can meet that community demand.”

The state is also working on increasing its supply of the COVID-19 antiviral pills, but those are even less available than the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Reed said the best way to prevent COVID-19 is still the vaccine.

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