U.S. Shipping Enough Monoclonals to Treat 1-in-5 Covid Cases
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. shipments of monoclonal antibody therapeutics for Covid-19 have surged during the latest wave of infections, with the government distributing one treatment for every five cases.
The U.S. shipped 200,513 doses for the week of Aug. 18, a five-fold increase from a month earlier, according to the latest data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the same period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported just shy of a million new cases.
Demand for the treatments clearly correlates with viral prevalence, but doses as a proportion of cases have also skyrocketed.
The drugs are lab-produced proteins that are designed to function much like the body’s natural immune response. Monoclonals are no substitute for getting inoculated, experts say. The treatment is aimed mainly at patients whose health conditions, age or weight place them at especially high risk of severe disease. An estimated 70% of the U.S. population is high enough risk to be eligible.
The federal government sends the antibody cocktails in response to orders from state health departments and health-care facilities. The treatment -- which was given to former President Donald Trump when he had Covid-19 last October -- is aimed at patients at high risk of severe disease and intended for use shortly after the onset of symptoms. They are available at no cost to patients.
The vast majority of U.S. shipments in recent months have been of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s REGEN-COV, though on Aug. 27 the government resumed distribution of an Eli Lilly & Co. antibody product to some states. The data doesn’t capture that latest time period.
The requests for shipments were most common among recent hot spots, with four states -- Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi -- accounting for more than half of all doses in the eight weeks through mid-August. Adjusting for population, Mississippi got the most in that period, followed by Louisiana and Alabama, the data show.
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