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COVID-19 outpatient therapeutics in short supply amid growing omicron cases

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 4:08 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Mid-South says therapeutic drugs are in short supply to treat COVID-19. States will soon receive word of what their next allocation of monoclonal antibodies and antiviral pills looks like.

Now, only one approved monoclonal antibody treatment is effective against the omicron variant, leading to an even thinner supply of the treatment across the country.

In Shelby County there are still doses of that treatment left, but patients are being prioritized.

The Methodist LeBonheur Minor Med clinic at Hacks Cross and Winchester is the only infusion site of the monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, or sotro, which works against the omicron variant. The state received just over 800 doses in its last supply.

With limited supply, the doses are prioritized for the most at risk patients. Those 65 and older or those with one or more comorbidities.

“We’re trying to be good stewards to make sure those at highest risk are those who are selected first to receive this product just so we do the greatest good with the limited supply,” Methodist Germantown’s Medical Director Dr. Cassandra Howard said.

Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas report effective outpatient therapeutics are in short supply.

Every week they get word from the federal government now many doses of the treatments they’ll receive.

“In previous weeks we haven’t had a per capita distribution,” Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. “We got a little bit more this week than the previous week certainly related to increase cases of omicron.”

While sotro is being distributed to states based on increased infections, two of the newest outpatient therapeutics, antiviral pills by Merk and Pfizer, are being distributed based on population.

In its first allocation, Tennessee received about 5,000 doses combined of the two pills. Mississippi received about 2,800 and Arkansas about 2,700.

“If you look at the Pfizer drug it has been more effective than the monoclonal antibodies have been,” Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said.

You need a prescription or doctors referral to receive all three treatments. Doctors said the best protection is a preventative one like the vaccines.

“Primary vaccination is your first line of defense against a COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Howard said. “However to have monoclonal antibodies, to have oral retro virals to help treat those patients who are at risk and eligible I think it’s great.”

You’ll need to see your doctor for a prescription or referral to any of the treatments. For COVID-19 treatment resources in Shelby County click here. For more resources across Tennessee click here.

Mississippi Department of Health said most of the outpatient treatments will be available at its COVID Centers of Excellence.

For more resources on treatment and the pandemic in Arkansas click here.

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