Why this surge is complicating physicians' treatment decisions

Most physicians in the U.S. are unable to determine what variant a COVID-19 patient has been infected with, which is complicating treatment decisions, The New York Times reported Jan. 3. 

Monoclonal antibody treatments from Eli Lilly and Regeneron have proven effective at preventing hospitalization and death in high-risk patients carrying the delta variant but would have few benefits for those with omicron. The third antibody treatment available in the U.S. is effective against omicron but in short supply. 

The U.S. has not approved a test to determine each patient's variant. Instead, health systems use regional estimates from local laboratories or their own genetic sequencing data to help inform which antibody treatments to use for patients. The federal government has also backed a testing method to detect omicron's genetic signature, though experts say it's not realistic for hard-hit hospitals to do this for every patient. 

This lack of visibility means tailoring treatments for COVID-19 patients will be "extraordinarily difficult" over the next few weeks as delta and omicron spread rapidly nationwide, Alex Greninger, MD, PhD, assistant director of the clinical virology laboratories at Seattle-based University of Washington Medical Center, told the Times.

As of Dec. 25, omicron accounted for about 59 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., while the delta variant accounted for 41 percent. 

View the full article here.

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