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ADPH addresses ‘concern’ over possible antibody treatment shortage

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama medical professionals showed concern this week over the federal government’s decision to limit access to monoclonal antibody treatment.

“What I’m more worried about is the restriction on the availability of monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told WSFA 12 News on Monday. “I’m quite certain monoclonal antibodies have played a major role in keeping people out of the hospital.”

On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced the state will play a larger role in distribution. Rather than medical facilities ordering treatments from manufacturers, they will now come through the state.

The federal government will determine each state’s weekly amount of monoclonal antibody products based on COVID-19 cases and the amount of products being used by healthcare providers.

ADPH’s Dr. Karen Landers said that while “there’s a concern” over a possible shortage, the health department is involved in the process and has Alabama’s best interests at heart.

“The state will be working in this, and of course, the state’s mission being so strongly focused on getting this product out to entities to be able to use this product for patients,” Landers said. “The state of Alabama continues to work very hard on that particular mission.”

ADPH will identify locations that receive products as well as the number of products delivered.

While the health department encourages the treatment as soon as possible to prevent further hospitalizations, Landers said it does not replace the vaccine, as the immunity created through monoclonal antibody treatments wears off in about 90 days.

“Vaccine is everywhere,” Landers said. “So again, get your vaccine and follow your mitigation so that you will significantly reduce your risk of getting COVID and you won’t have to be treated with monoclonal antibodies.”

In addition to vaccines being more preventative, the doctor also said it is easier to get the shot than wait for monoclonal antibody treatments.

She said the infusion process takes about an hour, followed by an observation period that can tack on an additional hour.

“It’s not a simple process,” Landers said. “So that’s just something to be aware of, and to help people to understand that that’s part of the reason we say it’s not a substitute for vaccine.”

“Early on, I was hearing people say, ‘Well, I’m not really worried about it anymore, we’ve got these monoclonal antibodies, I’ll just go get that if I get sick,’” Landers said. “That’s not necessarily the thing you want to do and the way you want to approach this.”

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