Monoclonal antibody therapy no substitute for vaccine
The increased incidence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has caused a substantial surge in the use of monoclonal antibody products. Monoclonal antibody treatments help those at high risk for serious COVID illness, individuals who have recently tested positive for the virus, or people who are close contacts of persons who have tested positive for COVID. Monoclonal antibody treatment builds rapid immunity to the virus and helps prevent hospitalization, but they are not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccination.
To help ensure the consistent availability of these critical products for current and future patients in all geographic areas of the country, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) transitioned from the direct ordering process for monoclonal antibodies from the manufacturer to a state-coordinated distribution system on September 13.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “During this transition, our highest priority will be to ensure that the ordering process for monoclonal antibodies is in place, so Alabama healthcare providers can be sent needed products as soon as possible.”
HHS will determine each state’s weekly amount of monoclonal antibody products based on cases and use on a week-by-week basis. Healthcare providers must record their utilization of the products promptly in order to be eligible to receive additional shipments.
The Alabama Department of Public Health will identify which sites in the state will receive the product and the amount each of the multiple sites receives. HHS will continue to monitor product utilization rates, COVID-19 case burden, and the overall availability of monoclonal antibodies to determine when a shift back to the normal direct ordering process may be possible.
Providers are to prioritize patients based on their risk of progression to severe COVID disease. Treatment should be given as soon as possible (within 10 days) after a close contact to a positive case of COVID-19, to patients who tested positive, and to individuals who are at high risk for disease progression to severe COVID-19.
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