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State Health Officer says COVID treatments are scarce in Alabama

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 7:31 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The scarcity of COVID treatments is creating challenges for healthcare providers, and the state of Alabama is scrambling to come up with ways to fairly allocate medications.

Outside of vaccines and boosters, there are really only two other ways to treat COVID: monoclonal antibody therapy and antiviral pills.

Right now, there are four monoclonal antibody treatments under Emergency Use Authorization, but it seems Sotrovimab is the only one that works to treat Omicron, which Dr. Harris said is becoming the dominant variant in Alabama, if it isn’t already.

More sequencing will need to be done to determine that for sure.

The problem is the treatment is in very short supply.

Alabama is expected to get only 420 doses of Sotrovimab this week and Dr. Harris said that’s not nearly enough.

There are also two new oral antiviral drugs: Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir.

Both are meant to be taken within the first few days of having COVID-19.

They reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by up to 88% for Paxlovid and 30% for Molnupiravir.

But again, Dr. Harris said there’s not enough to go around.

“We’re getting a state allocation every couple of weeks of just a few hundred doses, I think 5 or 600 hundred doses of the most effective product, which is the one made by Pfizer called Paxlovid, and again, we’re having thousands of cases a day and just getting a few hundred doses every couple of weeks…so that’s a real challenging situation for us right now,” Dr. Harris said.

ADPH said equity remains top of mind with distributing treatments across the state.

Both antiviral drugs will be dispensed through Walmart with a prescription.

Doctors said right now, all treatments are being reserved for those who might have the worst outcomes with the disease.

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