BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – There is a shortage of monoclonal antibodies, and supplies are being rationed at hospitals throughout West Virginia.
West Virginia is not getting enough COVID supplies from the federal government to allocate to hospitals. The demand is much greater than the supply at WVU Medicines St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon.
As the number of COVID patients continues to increase, the restrictions will be greater for those who will qualify for the infusions. Only patients with the greatest symptoms are getting infusion treatments.
“What we are seeing now is that that allocation is not keeping up with the number of COVID positive patients that we are seeing across the state. We’re making sure that we are, again, reserving those antibody therapies for those folks that really need it, so St. Jose is kind of in the same situation as other hospitals in that there could be some folk being put on a waitlist,” said Dr. Todd Karpinski, Chief Pharmacy Officer, WVU Medicine.
The state disperses the supply given from the federal government based on the hospital’s previous utilization and presumptive need.
The monoclonal antibody is given to patients who are experiencing severe symptoms of COVID.
The antibody binds to the virus and stops it from replicating and causing more damage to the immune system and worsening symptoms. The therapy is rapidly effective if the illness is diagnosed early on.
Not all who have COVID need antibody therapy. Young, vaccinated people with mild symptoms of COVID are urged to stay home and follow guidance from their primary care physician.
Dr. Karpinski said to treat your symptoms with things like Ibuprofen, Sudafed and over-the-counter cough syrup. If you’re healthy and vaccinated, COVID will run its course, and you do not need to go to the emergency department or get monoclonal antibiotic therapy.
People who may need monoclonal antibody therapy are those who are elderly or have underlying conditions who are experiencing severe symptoms. The reserve of the supply is for that group of people.
WVU Medicine facilities have been moving the supplies around to try to meet the needs of the different facilities throughout the state. Patients are being put on waiting lists, but as of Jan. 6, the lists have not been very long.