The Medical Association of the State of Alabama is voicing concerns after state health officials announced a federal plan to cut the state’s allocation of monoclonal antibodies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is halting treatment expansion plans and imposing limitations on the state’s allocation of monoclonal antibodies reported Al.com.
“Alabama’s hospitals are full and under tremendous stress. That’s why physicians are very concerned about federal efforts that will end up limiting our supply and access to this effective treatment,” stated Dr. Aruna Arora, President of the Medical Association. “We’re calling on the federal government to help us provide more of this treatment – not less – so we can save lives and keep COVID patients out of the hospital.”
The limitations the federal government has set are expected to be temporary. However, the cuts will impact some 228 providers, including 142 non-hospital locations and doctor’s offices.
Patients who receive monoclonal antibody treatments report feeling better within 24 to 48 hours. Dr. Aurora stressed that the antibodies are not a replacement for vaccinations.
“The best way people can avoid COVID-19 and hospitalization is to get vaccinated. Monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for COVID vaccinations. However, if someone does test positive for COVID-19, they should immediately talk to a physician and see if they qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment. It can be a life-saver if given in the first 10 days of symptoms,” Dr. Arora said.
Because of the limitations put on monoclonal antibodies, the Alabama Department of Public Health has asked healthcare providers to review the criteria for administering the treatment based on the patient’s risk of progression to severe Covid-19 disease.
Alabama Department of Public Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre stated, “It is important to understand that post-exposure preventive monoclonal antibodies are not a replacement for vaccination. Prevention of any disease including COVID-19 disease is always best when it is an available option. The best way to prevent any infectious illness is to avoid being exposed to it. People have the power to protect themselves and their families by reducing the chance of being exposed and of exposing others.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health have asked healthcare providers to review criteria for administering the treatment based on the patient’s risk of progression to severe COVID-19 disease.
According to the ADPH website, post-exposure preventive monoclonal antibody treatment should be considered for individuals who have been exposed and who are:
12 years of age or older and weigh at least 88 pounds and
Not fully vaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised or on immunosuppressive treatment and
Treatment should be given within 10 days after close contact with a positive case to patients who then test positive themselves.