Tennessee State Health officials have announced that people who visit emergency rooms and have not been vaccinated yet are going to be the ones who will be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID19 in the state from now onwards. They have said that the overwhelming demand for antibody drugs and the federal government’s requirement to restrict shipments of these drugs has compelled them to limit the treatment to only those who have not been immunized yet and have been dealing with severe COVID19 infection. Public health experts have said that the state’s decision to limit the treatment will raise some ethical questions about who should receive the treatment and who should not. An epidemic expert from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Sadiya Khan has said that if a patient has undergone a heart transplant and has taken the vaccine but is still vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is denied access to treatment, it will not be fair. Monoclonal antibody treatment can reduce the severity of infection among patients who have undergone organ transplants, said the expert. A top health official from the State Health Department, Dr. Lisa Piercey that the state’s logical decision might not be popular among people; however, it is clinically logical. Still, there are many concerns linked to this decision. Nevertheless, as per the state’s recommendations, people who have been immunized and are dealing with compromised immune systems will be able to access antibody treatment, said the expert. Tennessee has been following the guidance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is the first state to suggest limiting monoclonal antibody treatment to patients with COVID19 who have not been immunized or have been vaccinated but are dealing with weaker immune systems.
Dr. Karen Bloch has said that with the new decision, the state is keeping COVID19 patients who are at higher risk on priority. Dr. Bloch has been working with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He has said that people who have not been vaccinated with COVID19 shots are at a greater risk of death due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Therefore, the state’s decision to keep those patients first in line makes sense. Health experts have said that monoclonal antibody drugs can reduce the severity of COVID19 signs and symptoms. They have said that since the highly contagious delta strain has started spreading across all the states in the US, the demand for antibody drugs has shot up enormously. The delta variant has caused a massive surge in COVID19 cases in the US. As per the latest report, nearly 70 percent of the supply of antibody drugs has been shipped to seven southern states of Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee. Except for Louisiana, all these states are run by Republicans who have been opposing mandates of including COVID19 shots in the list of compulsory vaccines in the US. Experts have said that all states except Florida have been reporting below average rates of vaccination. There has been a major increase in the use of monoclonal antibody drugs due to the recent rise in COVID19 cases. Health officials have said that states that have been reporting low rates of vaccination have been using large amounts of these drugs. The data from the Mayo Clinic have shown that Tennessee has recorded a 44.1 percent rate of vaccination that is one of the worst rates of vaccination in the US. The Biden government has placed more orders for these drugs from the two main suppliers Regeneron and Eli Lilly and Company.
Health officials from the US government have said that they will restrict shipments of these drugs to ensure that there is enough supply for all states in the country. A spokesperson from the White House, Jen Psaki has said that the country does not have an unlimited supply of antibody drugs. The supply should be allocated equally across all the states in the US. Republican governors of Mississippi, Texas, and Florida have criticized the government’s move. The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been promoting costly antibody drugs that cost around $2100 per dose in the state. He has refused to mandate far cheaper COVID19 shots and implement safety measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. Experts have said that COVID19 shots cost somewhere between $10 to $20. The use of monoclonal antibody drugs has shot up in Kentucky as well. Health experts have said that the number of people with COVID19 being treated with these drugs has shot up in the state in the last week. However, Governor Andy Beshear has said that due to federal shortage, only a handful of people in the state will be able to access this treatment. In the state, more than 5000 monoclonal antibody drugs have been made available for patients in the last week. State health officials have said that the state is going to get nearly 4960 doses of antibody drugs this week. Dr. Steven Stack, who is the health commissioner of the state, has said that patients need to get these drugs within 10 days of showing symptoms of COVID19. He has said that patients who are at a greater risk of the disease will be receiving the treatment in Kentucky due to supply shortages. Baptist Health Corbin has declared that they are going to shut down their clinic for monoclonal antibody infusion, as they do not have enough drugs. Some experts have said that the clinic might reopen in the coming days. On the other hand, Governor Andy Beshear has said that more of these kinds of closures might happen in the future. Governor Andy Beshear has claimed that people who are refusing to take the shots in the hope of these drugs should get the vaccines immediately as there will never be enough supply. However, the governor has said that the state will be able to make these drugs available to at least one provider in each of the area development districts across the state but the supply will not be enough for everyone.