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Maryland officials advise health care providers to conserve monoclonal antibody treatments

BY MYCHAEL SCHNELL - 12/24/21 03:55 PM EST

Maryland officials are telling health care providers to preserve monoclonal antibody treatments after the federal government discovered that a portion of the approved therapies do not protect against the COVID-19 omicron variant.

The federal government has approved three types of monoclonal antibody treatments for states to help COVID-19 patients, two of which were determined to not be effective against the highly infectious omicron strain, according to a letter sent to health care providers by Howard Haft, a senior medical adviser at the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and Jinlene Chan, the deputy secretary of public health, provided to The Hill.

Maryland has paused distribution of the two ineffective treatments.

Supplies for the remaining treatment, however, are limited nationwide and as a result are being conserved for patients who are older than 65 years old or immunocompromised, according to the state's health department.

The state officials penned a letter to health care providers on Thursday informing them that some monoclonal sites may run out of supplies before the next shipment, which is expected early next month, arrives.

"It is possible that some monoclonal sites will run out of mAb prior to the next shipment expected in early January 2022," the state officials wrote to health care providers. "The state is making every effort to ensure that our supply of [monoclonal antibody] therapies are available to patients who need them most."

Half and Chan instructed the health care providers to “prioritize the use of mAb therapy to the highest-risk patients [due to] current shortages.”

“MDH strongly encourages physicians to prioritize the use of sotrovimab for individuals who are 65 years old and older and individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised,” the letter adds.

The officials also said that because of the supply shortages, the state will be “adjusting our distribution algorithm to ensure that facilities serving the highest risk patients have mAb to administer, including to residents in congregate care facilities.”

Andy Owen, a spokesman for the MDH, told The Hill in an email that the state will utilize the supplemental therapies that are authorized by the federal government as the Old Line State continues to plan its response to the pandemic.

Additionally, Owen said the state will still provide antibody treatments for nursing home residents.

News that supplies of the monoclonal antibody treatment are running low comes after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the MDH last week pointed to monoclonal antibodies as a key part of the state’s response to rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, The Baltimore Sun reported, especially for matters relating to residents in congregate care facilities.

The treatment reportedly lowers the chances of some individuals becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 by as much as 80 percent in certain cases.

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