The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases across the nation has boosted demand for monoclonal antibodies and caused a shortage of the life-saving treatment across the nation.
North Dakota is among states where COVID-19 cases are spiking, and state fficials said that they do expect demand for the treatment, which has been shown to reduce hospitalizations, to exceed the state’s allowed allocation.
For the week of Sept. 13, North Dakota was allocated 40 units of BAM/ETE and 340 units of REGN-COV, according to a media release from the state.
North Dakota presently has 3,422 active cases of COVID-19, including 579 listed as new cases as of Thursday, Sept. 16. North Dakota lists 107 hospitalizations, 18 of which are in an ICU.
The state’s data shows 270 of the new cases are PCR tests, while 309 are considered probable cases, because they are based on an antigen test.
Monoclonal antibodies can be given to individuals who face a high risk for a serious COVID-19 case to prevent hospitalization, if administered early enough. Clinical trials have shown a 70 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization with monoclonal antibodies. It’s been seen as an important strategy to help preserve hospital capacity, particularly in vaccine hesitant states like North Dakota.
“Those who have been hesitant about receiving COVID-19 vaccine may be counting on monoclonal antibodies for treatment if they become sick,” said ND State Health Officer Nizar Wehbi. “Due to increased national demand and very limited supply, Monoclonal antibody treatments may not be as available. Vaccination is still the best protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. North Dakotans who have not yet been vaccinated are encouraged to do so.”
Because of the shortage a new distribution system has been put in place. The Department of Health and Human Services will allocate the available supply for states and territories based on two factors, case burden and utilization rates.
After that, states will determine which administration sites will receive the available products, and how much they will receive.
“While there is a shortage of supply, those who need the treatment are encouraged to ask their health care provider,” said NDDoH Health Resources and Response Section Chief Tim Wiedrich. “The ND Department of Health will be working to distribute North Dakota’s allocation to facilities across the state.”