But for now, some hospitals are uncertain of supplies, state health officials said, even as patients keep searching for doses.And after months of work by President Biden and Southern governors to promote the treatments, they have won the affection of vaccine refusers who said that the terrors and uncertainties of actually getting Covid had made them desperate for an antidote.
Raising vaccination rates, scientists said, would obviate the need for many of the costly antibody treatments in the first place.The government-supplied monoclonal antibodies, made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, have been shown to significantly shorten patientsâ€™ symptoms and reduce their risk of being hospitalized â€” by 70 percent, in the case of Regeneronâ€™s antibody cocktail.â€œTheyâ€™re like, â€˜I have Covid, I want this treatment, my friend or family told me about this,â€™â€ said Jennifer Berry, the Houston Methodist nursing director of infusion services.At Houston Methodist, nurses administered nearly 1,100 treatments across eight sites in the first week of September, well more than twice as many as any week last winter.Juggling the infusions with more seriously ill Covid patients this summer forced the hospital, in one case, to move a monoclonal antibody clinic to a strip mall storefront.But the Texas health department has helped, providing 19 nurses for a different Houston Methodist infusion clinic, said Vicki Brownewell, the lead administrator for the hospitalâ€™s program.
The Biden administration has also invested $150 million in expanding access to monoclonal antibodies, and Houston Methodist has used federal money to arrange medical taxis for patients struggling with transportation.
Ramers said, some large, for-profit hospitals have decided not to administer the antibodies at all because of the logistical hassles, leaving wealthier, well-insured patients to hunt down doses at his publicly funded clinic.Of the 2.4 million monoclonal antibody doses shipped nationally, at least 1.1 million have been used.North Carolina providers have requested 15,000 weekly doses, the health department there said, more than double what the federal government has allocated.
But the Department of Health and Human Services will now decide how many doses each state receives based on case rates and use of the treatment.Diana Berrent, the founder of Survivor Corps, which has worked to help patients find monoclonal antibody treatments, said that involving state governments would create delays: â€œYouâ€™re layering in 50 new layers of bureaucracy,â€ she said.As a result, health officials have warned that vaccine skeptics may become so enamored of monoclonal antibodies that they become even more resistant to getting a protective shot.
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