Nationwide antibody treatment shortage, patients being turned away

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. – Monoclonal antibody treatment has been used to significantly treat COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of hospitalization and serious complications. However, the treatment is not as well-known, and many miss the chance to get it.

Some people with COVID-19 never experience any symptoms, while others get hit hard by the illness. For this Minot resident, who would like to remain anonymous, over a two-day span she knew that she was sick but had a plan.

“Within four hours, I got really sick, and I knew I needed to go in for early treatment. That was kind of my plan all along, if I got COVID I would go in for early treatment since I have asthma,” said this Minot resident.

Her plan? Monoclonal antibody treatment.

“The whole rest of the day, I was really sick, but within 24 hours, I was 10 times better. I have never recovered so quickly from an illness in my whole entire life,” said the Minot resident.

She was prescribed ivermectin as well but said she believes it was the antibody treatment that helped the most and wants others to know her story.

“Early treatment is just another tool that we can be using to reduce hospitalizations and to reduce just suffering in general. So really, I just like to tell everyone I know to seek early treatment,” said the resident.

However, that tool may not be available for everyone.

Prior to September, state health departments and hospitals could purchase their own supply of the treatment, but that changed four weeks ago when the federal government stepped in and began allocating the supply.

“Those specific antibodies have been allocated to the 50 states based on what’s occurring within the states in terms of utilization but also the number of active cases,” said Tim Wiedrich, section chief for the Health Resources Response Section with the North Dakota Department of Health.

With demands high across the country and manufacturers not being able to keep up, states including North Dakota are seeing massive shortages.

“For the most part, most people have been able to obtain it. Now there are times when they have had to drive some distance in order to get to a facility that has it or facilities have shifted product to get the monoclonal antibodies to the where the patient is at. Again, there have been some patients that have not been able to get it,” said Wiedrich.

Widerich added that this will not be case forever and that eventually supply will be able to meet demand, but does not know what that timeline looks like and hopes people takes the necessary precautions against COVID-19.

The Minot resident hopes that more people will advocate for early treatment and understand that there are other options out there.

North Dakota is allocated two types of monoclonal antibody treatment each week.

Your primary health care provider has to refer you for monoclonal antibody treatment.

There are infusion treatment facilities throughout the state.

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