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.
Also in the news:
► The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas ship as it continues to sail with more than 50 cases of COVID onboard.
► About two dozen sailors on a U.S. Navy warship — roughly 25% of the crew — have tested positive for COVID-19, keeping the ship sidelined in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba Monday, according to U.S. defense officials.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 52.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 818,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 281.3 million cases and 5.4 million deaths. More than 205 million Americans – 61.8% – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: Mixing up a COVID vaccine cocktail? Here’s our guide to mixing and matching Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J booster shots.
Dale Weeks’ family believes he was an indirect victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The retired Iowa school superintendent died in late November, nearly a month after he was diagnosed with sepsis, a dangerous, blood-borne infection unrelated to the coronavirus.
His daughters think he might have survived if he’d been admitted immediately to a large medical center, where he could have received advanced testing and prompt surgery.
But he stayed for 15 days at Newton’s relatively small hospital because the bigger Iowa facilities said they couldn’t spare a bed for him, his family says. Iowa’s short-staffed hospitals have been jammed for months with patients, including people severely sickened by the coronavirus.
“It’s infuriating that people who are not vaccinated are clogging it up,” said Jenifer Owenson of Des Moines, who is one of Weeks’ four children.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that nearly 82% of people hospitalized in Iowa for COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated, including 88% of those in intensive care. Overall, 30% of Iowa adults are not fully vaccinated.
— Tony Leys, Des Moines Register
Testing positive for COVID-19 starts a confusing, disruptive and at times frightening process – one that millions of Americans will likely go through in the coming week.
First, you need to isolate. That’s a more intense version of quarantining – it means cutting off contact with other people as much as possible so you reduce the chance of infecting them. This also means forgoing travel, not going to work and even limiting contact with people in your own household who aren’t infected.
The CDC says isolating is a necessary step whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, and whether you have symptoms or feel fine.
Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should monitor their symptoms. And people who are unvaccinated or at high risk for severe disease should be extra-vigilant for symptoms that might require emergency care. Call your doctor for early treatment options.
How long should you isolate? How long will I be contagious? What if you are in close contact with someone who tested positive? Here’s what you should know about omicron and COVID this holiday season.
Contributing: The Associated Press