White House pushes monoclonal antibody use amid COVID-19 surge

The Biden administration is calling on healthcare providers to ramp up their use of monoclonal antibodies to combat COVID-19 in the face of a surge of cases spurred by the delta variant, The New York Times reported Aug. 12. 

Monoclonal antibody drugs mimic antibodies the immune system naturally produces to fight COVID-19. They have been shown to sharply reduce hospitalization and deaths from the virus when given early in the course of the disease, the Times reported. 

Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, a White House adviser on racial equity in healthcare, told reporters at an Aug. 12 news conference that federal surge teams in hard-hit states are working to boost uptake and confidence in the drugs, which have been given to more than 600,000 people in the U.S. during the pandemic, according to the Times

The antibody drugs have become a key part of the federal government's strategy to fight COVID-19 in states where vaccination rates have stagnated, the Times reported. Distribution of the drug increased fivefold nationally from June to July, and increased eightfold in Florida in the last month. About 75 percent of the orders are from regions with low vaccination rates, according to HHS. 

The Biden administration has conducted virtual trainings for providers on how to administer the drugs in some states. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a "rapid response unit" Aug. 12 for giving Regeneron's monoclonal antibody drug in Jacksonville, the Times reported, and said the states would set up similar sites in other cities. Virtually all COVID-19 patients have gotten the monoclonal antibody during the delta surge. Three kinds of the drug have been authorized by the FDA. 

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