Shortage of Monoclonal Antibody Treatments for COVID-19 hits NGHS

Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Alix Schnibben, PharmD, BCACP, CTTS
Director of Clinical Quality and Ambulatory Pharmacy Services at NGMC

COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies have become the treatment of choice when we see patients with COVID-19. The treatment has been a lifesaver, quite literally, as it’s shown to be effective at keeping high-risk patients out of the hospital and serious symptoms at bay.

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 starts to take over as the dominant version of the virus, the nation is experiencing a shortage of this treatment – and it turns out that it isn’t as effective against the new strain.

COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Shortage

Hospitals across the state of Georgia, including us here at Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS), are finding doses of COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies hard to come by. Since August, NGHS has been administering this treatment to patients who are eligible. But with its growing popularity and effectiveness, we’ve hit a roadblock, making this treatment not as widely available as it once was.

This means that patients who are currently seeking COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment or end up needing the treatment in the future might not be able to receive it here or anywhere nearby. Additionally, the monoclonal antibody treatment that we know today has been found to “have diminished potency against Omicron,” according to Regeneron, the company that developed it.

However, the treatment is still effective in treating patients with the Delta variant.

What’s Next for Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

There is hope on the horizon, though. Regeneron said that “multiple ‘next generation’ monoclonal antibodies … targeting SARS-CoV-2 are active against the Omicron and Delta variants, as well as against the other variants of concern.” These more effective monoclonal antibodies should be ready for distribution in early 2022.

We hope it doesn’t come to treating you with these “next generation” monoclonal antibodies in the New Year, though. As we’ve said all along, vaccination is our best weapon to fight COVID-19. By doing your part and getting your vaccine and booster shot, we hope you’ll be able to avoid the virus or not experience serious symptoms should you get it.

Please find a vaccine near you or learn about booster shots and third doses or see if you’re eligible for either one.