Monoclonal antibodies are high in demand for COVID treatment in the US, especially in those who reject the vaccine against the infectious disease, prompting the Joe Biden administration to impose new limits on orders for the drugs, the media reports say.
Overall, the demand for monoclonal antibody treatment, lab-made antibodies given to a person that help their immune system stop the infection from spreading, have climbed 20-fold since mid-July, a media report said.
Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana made up 70 per cent of orders for monoclonal antibodies in recent weeks, according to the spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Of these states, only Florida has fully vaccinated more than half of its total population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The others rank in the bottom 10 states for vaccinations nationwide.
All seven rank among the top half of states with the highest rates of daily COVID-19 hospitalisations in recent weeks, the report said.
“Given this reality, we must work to ensure our supply of these life-saving therapies remains available for all states and territories, not just some,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
President Biden, last week announced his administration is increasing the pace of free weekly shipments of monoclonal antibodies by 50 per cent for the month of September, according to another media report.
The administration is also launching “monoclonal antibody strike teams” to assist healthcare workers and hospital staff that administer the treatment.
The HHS Department will amend rules that allow more providers, including pharmacists, to administer the treatment, the report said.
It will also allocate the drugs to state health departments, “based on COVID-19 case burden” and demand for the treatment with Regeneron’s REGEN-COV and Eli Lilly’s combination bamlanavimab and etesevimab.
According to some preliminary research, the treatment — Regeneron’s REGEN-COV and Eli Lilly’s combination bamlanavimab and etesevimab — reduces risk for hospitalisation or death by about 70 per cent.
Earlier in August, Anthony Fauci, the President’s Chief Medical Adviser, said that monoclonal antibodies are “underutilised” and that the drug can reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 by 70 to 85 per cent.
However, the drugs are not to be used as a “substitute for vaccination,” but there has been a lack of awareness and access to monoclonal antibody therapy.
The therapy is also available in India, and hospitals including Medanta in Gurugram, BLK-Max Super Speciality and Sir Gangaram in New Delhi, have successfully implemented the treatment.