BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Right now, the demand for monoclonal antibody treatment is increasing at healthcare facilities in Alabama, but soon the supply may not be able to keep up with the demand.
The treatment is for patients who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 and have underlying medical conditions to keep them out of the hospital.
Healthcare leaders said some facilities in Huntsville may feel the impact as early as this Sunday. They say it’s because federal agencies have asked Alabama to start rationing monoclonal treatments. Now we’re only getting 70% of that order.
“Unfortunately, this change in distribution has created quite a bit of turmoil and uncertainty in the equation,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said during the Medical Association of the State of Alabama’s weekly COVID-19 update.
The Alabama Department of Public Health is now in charge of ordering monoclonal antibodies. Health officials said change came without warning earlier this week.
“I was told two weeks ago to ‘slow down, we’re treating too many people’ well they talked to the wrong person about that,” pulmonary medicine Dr. David Thrasher said. “We’re going to continue to ramp up, we’re going to continue to treat patients.”
According to health leaders they need to allow access of these treatments for the other states as Alabama has given more doses per capita than any other state—now, not receiving 30% of our most recent order.
“When you don’t have enough supply and you have more demand, even with this monoclonal we will be making decisions that are difficult decisions and that is really unfortunate,” President Dr. Aruna Arora of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama said. “It hurts us as providers to be in this situation. We want to be able to treat you and we have our hands tied.”
Health officials are asking for your help to get vaccinated until they can get enough treatments.
“We cannot promise treatments right now during these next few weeks,” Arora said. “We’re trying to sort it out. We are certainly on your side as patients who need help but let us ask that of you. Please help us also.”
UAB’s infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag says the virus is going to keep replicating and forming variants for years to come. He said our best protection as a global community is to get vaccinated and stop it in its tracks, so you won’t need these treatments in the first place.
“Our best protection are vaccines,” Saag said. “You’ve heard it a hundred times, a million times. You’re hearing it because it is true, and you can take that to the bank.”