JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When it comes to treatment of COVID-19, options are limited, and the omicron variant has proved to be an even bigger challenge for providers.
Until Pfizer’s and Merck’s antiviral pills hit the market, there are three treatments if someone gets sick with COVID-19.
The main ones you have probably heard of and are most available are Regeneron and Eli Lilly. They are the most readily available at hospitals and treatment centers in Florida right now.
The third, less available option is Sotrovimab. There is currently none of this treatment available in Northeast Florida though.
The claim we are putting to the Trust Index is do monoclonal antibodies work against the omicron variant?
Omicron is now the dominant variant across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest estimate, omicron cases make up 58.6% of cases across the U.S., but in the Southeast, it’s estimated to make up 78% of cases.
But new studies show the Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatment offered at the Joseph Lee Center in Jacksonville and other treatment sites across Northeast Florida don’t offer relief against omicron.
RELATED: Monoclonal antibodies may not be as successful at treating omicron | Appointments limited at Jacksonville COVID-19 antibody treatment site | Local health expert’s take on when to seek monoclonal antibody treatment
Sotrovimab has proven to be effective against the omicron variant, but that treatment is extremely limited.
UF Health Jacksonville director of infectious disease Chad Neilsen says this makes treatment tricky.
“We have plenty of Regeneron, and we had been getting plenty of Regeneron and the Eli Lilly product for a long time from the federal government,” Neilsen said. “But once they said it’s not effective against omicron, that supply dried up, and now you’re funneling an entire nation’s need for a monclonal antibody to one product, and that one product was not expected to be the sole monoclonal antibody, so those supplies are now running out.”
So on the Trust Index, we are going to mark the claim do monoclonal antibodies work against the omicron variant as be careful.
There is a treatment option right now that works against the omicron variant, but it’s not readily available, and Neilsen says the few courses available in Florida will be used on the sickest people.
Neilsen says they are going to continue using Regeneron on a case-by-case basis because there’s still the chance a person can be infected with the delta variant.
Overall, though, doctors say it’s best not to rely on the treatment, which is why they are pushing people to get vaccinated so they don’t need it in the first place.