Texas infusion centers are running out of monoclonal antibody treatments to fight COVID-19
FERRIS, Texas - Texas is running low on antibody treatments that can help keep people with coronavirus symptoms out of the hospital.
"I was very frightened. I was very frightened, and my husband and I knew. I could tell by the loop on his face that he was concerned too just because of how rapidly it was taking over," said Ann McSwain.
McSwain tested positive for COVID-19 last week and very quickly her symptoms got worse. She along with her husband tried contacting several different facilities looking for monoclonal antibodies. They had no luck.
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"There’s one in Fort Worth and I want to say one in Rockwall. Both of those were out. Then she referred my husband to Baylor Grapevine to see if they had any connections and they were out as well," she said.
Like the McSwains, Jamie Wilder spent hours on the phone looking for treatment for her 74-year-old mother who, along with Wilder herself, recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
"They’re like, ‘We’re completely out. We don’t know when we’re getting more. So, there were several places. I think I probably called 10 places," she said.
Both families were eventually able to find treatments in Ferris, southeast of Dallas.
McSwain said she started feeling better within 12 hours and feels lucky she didn’t have to wait longer for an appointment.
"I think I would probably be in a hospital by now. There was no way as rapidly as it was taking over that I don’t see any other route. And like I said, the doctor today she said, ‘Yeah, your numbers were bad. You were headed there,’" she said.
But like so many others across the metroplex, the infusion center in Ferris has also now run out of the treatments.
"We’re seeing a greater need for this than we have since we opened our doors. We have over 160 people a day needing to be treated and we don’t have the doses anymore," said Brooks Williams, Ferris’ city manager.
Last week, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced a pause in the shipment of monoclonal antibodies like Regeneron, which have been shown to be less effective against the omicron variant.
"Regeneron, while it was about 80-90% effective against the delta variant, it’s only about 30-40% effective against omicron. However, I’d rather have a 30-40% chance of helping somebody than a 0% chance," Williams said.
A different treatment called Sotrovimab is more effective against omicron, but there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand.
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The state health department said due to a national shortage, regional infusion centers in several cities including Fort Worth, Austin and El Paso have run out of it.
It’s leaving families desperately looking for treatment options to prevent more severe illness and hospitalization.
"The advice I’d have to anyone else trying to find some antibody treatments is just don’t give up. Keep calling," Wilder said.
About 300,000 additional doses of Sotrovimab are expected to be shipped out across the country in January.