The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance to people with weak immune systems, saying they should take extra precautions after a key COVID-19 antibody treatment’s emergency use authorization was pulled by another federal agency.
The guidance again calls for immunocompromised individuals to wear masks and engage in social distancing, the CDC’s revised guidance says, despite CDC-cited studies and data suggesting that masks provide little effectiveness in blocking the transmission of COVID-19. Some former federal officials have said that the six-foot social distancing rule adopted around the United States in early 2020 was arbitrary.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled its authorization of Evusheld, a combination antibody treatment that is given to people with weak immune systems. The agency said that it is not effective against most of the COVID-19 Omicron subvariants that are currently circulating around the United States, including the XBB subvariants and the BQ strain.
“Among persons with immunocompromise and their household members and close contacts, prevention measures including wearing a high-quality and well-fitting mask, maintaining physical distance from others (at least six feet), improving indoor ventilation, practicing frequent handwashing, and developing a care plan, should be considered in addition to receipt of a bivalent booster dose,” said the CDC on Jan. 27.
The agency added that “it is important to wear a mask and maintain physical distance from others if it is not possible to avoid crowded indoor spaces … simple interventions should be used to improve ventilation in buildings and decrease SARS-CoV-2 transmission by improving air flow.” The agency also again recommended that immunocompromised people should get up-to-date COVID-19 vaccines.
The CDC advises that people who have a weak immune system and develop COVID-19-like symptoms to get tested for the virus. They should then receive an antiviral drug within five to seven days.