Triangle hospitals have fewer monoclonal antibody treatment options amid COVID-19 omicron surge

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The dominance of the omicron COVID-19 variant is leading to fewer monoclonal antibody treatment options.

The major hospital systems across the Triangle will no longer be using two of the main monoclonal antibody treatments, leaving one monoclonal antibody left for treatments of COVID-19.

David Wohl, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC Chapel-Hill, said Regeneron and Bam-Et monoclonal antibodies are not effective against omicron, but sotrovimab is.

The CDC estimates omicron makes up 95 percent of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“It doesn’t make sense anymore to try to figure out whether or not someone has omicron or delta, it’s omicron,” Wohl said.

The issue for health care providers is sotrovimab is in short supply nationwide.

Wohl said UNC Health has about 300 to 400 doses of sotrovimab and he expects that to run out by the end of next week.

“It is horrible to be in a situation where you’re having to choose who gets medicine and who doesn’t, when many, many more people should be treated,” Wohl said.

According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina received 978 sotrovimab doses this week. Nearly 3,500 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Friday numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

A spokesperson for Duke Health said it received a shipment of 48 sotrovimab doses Thursday.

“We do not expect this allocation to last very long,” a spokesperson for Duke Health said. “We suspended utilization of REGEN-COV and Bam-Ete for the time being.”

WakeMed also stopped using the antibodies that were effective against the delta variant.

“We have a limited supply of sotrovimab doses that we are administering in our monoclonal antibody clinic,” said a WakeMed spokesperson. “As is true with all administration sites, we will run out soon.”

Researchers hope more help is on the way. Durham-based Brii Biosciences has a monoclonal antibody treatment being reviewed for emergency use authorization, but there’s no date yet for an FDA vote.

David Margolis is the head of Infectious Disease Therapy Area for Brii Biosciences. He said in a National Institute of Health-sponsored study the company’s antibody treatment was able to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 80 percent.

“We believe our antibody combination will be effective against the omicron variant, as it has continued to remain active against all the variants of concern identified to date,” Margolis said.

There are other treatments that are effective against omicron, including Remdesivir, which is administered as an IV. Pills from Pfizer and Merck also work against omicron, but Wohl said supply is tight.

Health officials emphasize that the best protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted when you’re eligible.

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