HONOLULU (KHON2) — Demand for monoclonal antibodies skyrocketed across the nation, and now supply can’t keep up.
The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has become the central point for distributing the treatments across the state, but with this shortage, hospitals and clinics are not receiving the quantity of doses they requested.
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This week’s allotment from the federal government of monoclonal antibody treatments is 680. Prior, hospitals were able to directly order treatments from the manufacturer.
“Last week, the request we got was just under 1,500 doses, and so that means we had two requests for every single dose that is available,” Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO Hilton Raethel said. “And what that means is that we’re having to choose and be selective about who actually gets these drugs.”
The shortage comes as more medical facilities began ramping up antibody infusion clinics. More than half of the nation’s supply of monoclonal antibody treatments are being directed towards southern states where COVID vaccination rates are lower.
“We know that healthcare providers and community health centers around the state would like to see more,” DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr said. “Unfortunately that supply is just not there, so as a state we’re getting 680 treatments, and from there we are sending them out to the different hospitals.”
Monoclonal antibody treatments got FDA emergency use authorization late last year.
The state is allocating more doses to hardest hit areas. The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Medical Center got support from FEMA personnel to administer the treatment. Jacob Schafer, the center’s director of infection control, said this is a second line of defense for those who are already sick with the virus and should not replace COVID vaccinations.
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“We will continue to offer the treatment to everyone who meets our eligibility criteria until we run out of doses. That has not happened yet. I want to be very clear about that,” Schafer said. “We still have a number of doses on hand. If everyone that’s eligible to get vaccinated had gotten vaccinated, we would have enough doses of this treatment on island to treat the breakthrough high-risk cases.”