RAPID CITY, S.D. (Sept. 22, 2021) – Supplies of monoclonal antibodies, an effective treatment for certain COVID-19 patients, are running low nationally. Because of that, Monument Health is receiving fewer than half of the doses it has been administering recently.
Brandi Tackett, Director of Infusion Therapy at Monument Health Rapid City Hospital, said the health care system had been averaging about 50 treatments a week before the current surge in cases. Over the past few weeks, Monument’s use has quadrupled to about 200 treatments per week. However, federal and state agencies began allocating supplies based on availability. This week, Monument Health received just 96 doses.
“We really hope this is a temporary shortage, so we can return to treating everyone who meets the criteria for this medication,” she said. “We’re asking referring physicians to continue sending us referrals, because supplies could increase in the future.”
Since November, monoclonal antibodies such as REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) have been used to treat non-hospitalized patients who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms but are at high risk for severe complications. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the approved uses list to include high-risk patients who have known COVID-19 exposure but have not tested positive for the virus or shown symptoms.
Monument Health will follow National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for prioritizing which patients can receive the treatment.
Those already infected with COVID-19 will be given priority over at-risk patients with known exposure.
Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 will be given priority over those who are vaccinated and relatively healthy.
Vaccinated individuals who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response (e.g., immunocompromised individuals) will be given priority over the vaccinated and relatively healthy.
Tackett stressed that monoclonal antibodies are not a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine. The medication is given as a single 20 minute infusion treatment or several subcutaneous injections followed by an hour monitoring period. The treatment is offered at all five Monument Health markets.