Despite being the only authorized outpatient medical therapy for preventing the worsening of COVID-19 symptoms in high-risk patients, there remains no steady supply of monoclonal antibodies from the federal government a year after its approval for use by medical regulators.
Rolled out in the same month as the COVID-19 vaccines, monoclonal antibody therapies have not gotten the attention that vaccine treatments have after they were billed as the thing to get America out of the pandemic.
Even today, President Joe Biden continues to mostly focus on vaccinating children, providing boosters to every adult, and increase testing as part of his “new actions” to combat the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter.
Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing internist and a professor of medicine at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, says vaccines alone cannot bring America out of the pandemic. More breakthrough cases are occurring with the Delta and Omicron variants, and hospitalizations are rising this winter.
More than 206 million Americans are fully vaccinated and 72 million people have received a booster dose as of Jan. 5. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if they received two doses of the messenger RNA vaccines or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Siegel said that the Biden administration has not been able to deliver any therapeutics for early treatment of people with mild or moderate COVID-19 because of the administration’s “obsessive focus on the vaccines to the exclusion of all else.”
“When it comes to therapeutics, the Biden team’s results are even more anemic,” Siegel wrote in an op-ed in USA Today. “Paxlovid, Pfizer’s new protease inhibitor wonder drug, has been approved but is scarce.”
“Ditto monoclonal antibodies, the synthetic neutralizing antibodies that have been so helpful in patients at high risk of complications or hospitalizations. Omicron is most susceptible to sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline, but in most states, it is almost impossible to find,” he added.
By Meiling Lee