JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville COVID-19 antibody treatment site now has fewer appointments available after changing how it administers the drug, a city spokesperson said Monday.
The city said the free Regeneron treatment available at the Joseph Lee Center (5120 Perry St. – 32208) is now being administered using IV therapy. Previously, the site used injections to treat patients.
The city said IV therapy takes longer and is more labor-intensive, so the number of available appointments has decreased.
The city said it still has enough supply of the drug that has been used to fight against early COVID-19 infections.
But doctors are warning that Regeneron and another antibody drug from Eli Lilly are unlikely to work against the new omicron variant, which has become the dominant strain in the U.S. Last week, the government paused the distribution of the COVID-19 antibody treatments because they are not expected to be effective.
“This monoclonal antibody therapy that was so helpful during the Delta surge, the medications which we used at the time were the Regeneron product are not effective against Omicron,” said Dr. Chirag Patel, with UF Health Jacksonville.
For more than a year, the antibody drugs have been the go-to treatments for early COVID-19, thanks to their ability to head off severe disease and keep patients out of the hospital.
But both drugmakers recently warned that laboratory testing suggests their therapies will be much less potent against omicron, which contains dozens of mutations that make it harder for antibodies to attack the virus. And while the companies say they can quickly develop new omicron-targeting antibodies, those aren’t expected to launch for at least several months.
The FDA says that a second option of therapy -- Sotrovimab -- is effective against omicron, but Patel says supplies are limited. The federal government says it’s shipping out 55,000 doses across the country, but only a little more than 1,000 of them are going to Florida.
“Because it is in such a limited supply it’s going to be given to those individuals who have COVID, who have symptoms or who are at highest risk of progressing to severe disease and hospitalization,” Patel said.
The hours of operation at the Joseph Lee Center will remain unchanged (Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
The previously state-supported treatment site is now overseen by a vendor, at the permission of the county government. Appointments can be made at: www.patientportalfl.com. For more information, please reach out to your county health department or contact CDR Health at 850-344-9637.