SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Local clinics are triaging supplies of the lone monoclonal antibody infusion capable of treating omicron.
This week, states like Florida and Texas entirely exhausted their supplies of the drug, called sotrovimab. The federal government plans to distribute more doses on Monday, but supplies will remain limited.
When administered within the first few days of illness, sotrovimab can keep someone’s symptoms mild – and keep them out of the hospital. The drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 79 percent in a clinical trial.
The antibody manufactured by GSK not only works against delta, but it is also the only antibody treatment that retains activity against omicron.
UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest is one of the few locations in San Diego County that had the drug this week.
“At this point, we have a limited supply. Other providers don’t have it and the volume of patients is tremendous,” said Dr. Michele Ritter, who leads the monoclonal antibody clinic. “We are trying to use the resources we have to prioritize and give it to the patients who are most in need or will most benefit from it. But it’s very challenging right now.”
Family Health Centers of San Diego and Scripps Health also had supplies of sotrovimab as of Thursday. Both warned they had extremely limited supplies. Scripps says patients must obtain a prescription from their physician to get the treatment.
Federal records show California received 3,108 courses of sotrovimab this week. However, tracking down which provider has it at any moment is particularly difficult.
Both state and county health officials directed ABC 10News to a federal website called HHS Protect Public Data Hub.
The site shows a map of locations that supposedly offer monoclonal antibodies. There are 27 sites listed in San Diego County. ABC 10News found most of the listings are outdated or incorrect.
The tool shows any location that received shipments of a COVID treatment in the past. Palomar Health is among those listed. A spokesman confirmed Palomar Health no longer offers monoclonals.
The Monoclonal Antibody Regional Centers in Vista and San Diego, operated by San Diego County, carry other monoclonals but do not currently offer sotrovimab. It’s the same situation at Sharp HealthCare and Kaiser Permanente.
Clinics are allowed to keep giving out the other monoclonals from Eli Lilly and Regeneron until omicron makes up 80 percent of the cases in a state, based on CDC estimates.
Because antibody treatments need to be given soon after signs of illness, it’s often impractical to determine the variant infecting a patient before doctors administer treatment.
Most of the new infections in San Diego County are omicron, leaving doctors in a tricky position of whether to administer the monoclonals from Eli Lilly and Regeneron that are only effective against delta. “It’s a gamble,” said Dr. Ritter.
UC San Diego has added more slots and expanded infusions into the weekends, but like many clinics, they are using triage scores to choose which patients get sotrovimab.
“We are risk scoring patients as we speak to decide who we’re going to get into clinic today,” said Dr. Ritter.
Although a large number of people qualify for monoclonals, UC San Diego is giving priority to individuals 65 or older, those with a BMI greater than 35, or people who are immunocompromised.
According to the California Department of Public Health, patients should follow these steps to get a monoclonal:
“Step 1) Get tested for COVID-19 as soon as you notice symptoms.
Step 2) If you test positive for COVID-19, you’ve been around someone who recently has/had COVID-19, you’re immunocompromised OR have a medical reason that you can’t get vaccinated, talk to a healthcare provider to receive a referral for monoclonal antibody treatment.
Step 3) Find a monoclonal antibody treatment location. Your provider should be able to help you find a location.
You can also call 1-877-332-6585 (English Language); 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish Language) for assistance in locating treatment. HHS has a webpage (here) for a list of locations near you.”