Which treatments will work to fight Omicron?
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - New research shows the Omicron variant is overpowering key COVID antibody treatments, and two COVID shots isn’t quite enough.
So, what will work in this battle against Omicron, and what treatments are available in Alabama?
UAB’s Infectious Disease Director said monoclonal antibodies aren’t effective against this new variant.
Alabama’s state health officer said vaccination and boosters are still key in the COVID fight, but more treatments are on the way.
“If you’re not vaccinated and you get Omicron, you can’t rely on the monoclonal antibodies,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.
She said two of the three monoclonal antibody treatments doctors have depended on to keep COVID patients out of the hospital don’t appear to work against Omicron, and the one monoclonal antibody therapy that does work is in short supply.
“There is a new monoclonal, Sotrovimab, that we think has good activity against Omicron, we don’t have it, we can’t get it yet, and it’s not available in most places,” Dr. Marrazzo said.
Dr. Scott Harris said ADPH is working to get this new treatment to the state as soon as possible.
“It’s ordered through the federal government just like the others are. There’s a national shortage. Alabama’s only had a little over 300 doses shipped to our state, and we’ve distributed those around the state to try to make sure that we have a little bit in all parts of the state, but there’s not nearly enough to go around,” Dr. Harris explained.
Health experts said if we see a big wave of Omicron, we face the dual challenges of getting enough supply of the monoclonal antibody treatment that works and finding enough donors to deliver them to patients.
But there is some good news.
On Wednesday, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill for people diagnosed with the virus to take at home.
“Paxlovid is the name of it, and it seems to reduce risk of serious illness or death by about 80 to 90%. We don’t know when the product’s going to be available, but again, we do know there’s not going to be enough to go around, and we’re going to be making these allocation decisions again,” Dr. Harris said.
Dr. Harris maintains that the best treatment is the COVID vaccine, saying prevention is better than relying on a treatment that you can only get after you’re sick.
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