GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Local hospitals are feeling the effects of the nationwide monoclonal antibody shortage.
Spectrum Health has been carefully monitoring their dwindling supply as demand has picked up amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 virus.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Godana Simeunovic is the medical director of Spectrum’s COVID-19 infusion clinic. She said the health system currently has several hundreds of doses on hand, which is about the same number of treatments they give each week.
“From now on with limited supply (and) with omicron playing a role, we’re not sure how many patients were going to be able to treat,” she said.
The rapid spread of the omicron variant is driving the nationwide supply shortage, as Simeunovic said only one of three monoclonal antibody drugs approved for COVID-19 treatment has proven effective against the omicron variant.
The monoclonal antibody drugs are a medical cocktail that lessens the severity of COVID-19, especially when given early in the course of infection. The treatment, which is primarily given to those at high risk for developing severe illness from the virus, has proven to be very effective.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services coordinates and monitors the federally allocated Monoclonal Antibody medication.
A spokesperson for MDHHS told News 8 Thursday the state recently received an additional allocation of 3,228 patient courses of sotrovimab, the monoclonal effective against omicron. They also received 7,000 patient courses of the other two drugs, which are still effective against all other variants of concern, including delta.
“While somewhat limited, we continue to have sufficient mAb supply to meet demand,” MDHHS said in a statement. It said it has “been working with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify federal staffing resources to support the delivery of outpatient Monoclonal Antibody therapy at multiple sites statewide.”
Providers like Simeunovic are remaining cautious and emphasizing the importance of getting the vaccine and booster. She said the vaccine is the first line of defense.
“My hope is that everybody will get vaccinated and that our patients won’t wait and won’t rely on monoclonal antibodies,” Simeunovic said.