Texas runs out of monoclonal antibody treatment to fight omicron
The Texas state health department has run out of a key treatment to fight the omicron COVID-19 variant, which now makes up 90% of the virus cases in Texas.
On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that its regional infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have run out of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab.
The state does not expect to receive another shipment from the federal government until January.
Monoclonal antibodies like sotrovimab, drugs derived from people whose immune systems successfully fought off COVID-19, have been extremely effective at keeping high-risk infected people from developing severe disease.
But some of these drugs designed to fight COVID-19 like Pfizer's Paxlovid and a similar one by Eli Lilly, which both target the spike protein on the surface of the virus, aren't expected to work against the heavily mutated omicron variant.
Sotrovimab targets a different spot on the virus and appears to still work against omicron. In June, GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the drug along with Vir Biotechnology, showed that sotrovimab reduced by 79% the risk of requiring hospitalization for more than a day or dying from any cause within a month compared to placebo.
The government has spent $1 billion buying doses of sotrovimab to provide at no cost to people who need it. Like other monoclonals, it is expected to run about $2,100 per treatment course.
The drug is in short supply. GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology said they are "working with urgency and exploring options to expand our supply capacity," according to spokesperson Kathleen Quinn.