Monoclonal antibody treatment in high demand, doctors question effectiveness

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – There is high demand for monoclonal antibody treatment, but doctors say there is a low supply of effective antibodies.

The treatment is for patients who have been diagnosed with or exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression of severe illness, hospitalization or even death from the virus.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand now, we know that the percent positivity rate has shot up, we know that the community spread in the Central Florida area has gone up and so as a result, the public is also aware of the benefit of monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Vincent Hsu said.

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According to local doctors, there is a shortage of monoclonal antibodies around the state, causing some treatment centers to halt appointments until further notice.

“One of the issues that we are limited in right now is that there may be shortages of MAB. We are continuing to work with the state to make sure we get the ones that we can that are effective,” Dr. Hsu said.

Seminole County medical director Dr. Todd Husty said current treatments may not hold up against the omicron variant.

“Yeah so, we’re sort of between a rock and a hard place right now,” he said.

Dr. Hsu said blames the variant’s mutations.

“We have seen with the omicron variant, with its myriad of mutations that have occurred are less effective to some of the monoclonal antibodies that have been given,” he said.

Dr. Hsu said that includes the prominent brand, Regeneron.

Husty said the unvaccinated are playing a dangerous game, especially because antibody treatments aren’t entirely reliable.

“We just lost a good backup approach to what happens if you get ill, especially if you’re unvaccinated,” he said.

Doctors acknowledge the newly authorized COVID-19 pills can help fight the virus and work as an emergency treatment but emphasize the anti-viral pill will not be widely available for months.

They are strongly encouraging people to make the vaccine and booster shot the first line of defense.

“There’s even more reason to get vaccinated,” Dr. Husty said. “We may not be able to help you if you get a worse disease or keep you from getting a worse disease.”

Doctors are still working with the state of Florida to provide more effective antibodies that can combat Omicron.

About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.