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Monoclonal antibody treatments in short supply in Arizona amid COVID-19 omicron surge

Some Arizona hospitals are pausing a lifesaving COVID-19 treatment because of a supply shortage.

Valleywise Health and Honor Health are the latest hospital networks to announce that they've stopped administering monoclonal antibody treatments amid the latest surge fueled by the omicron variant.

"[The variant] comes in quickly and leaves quickly," said Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer for Valleywise Health. "You're contagious for a short period of time and then no longer to spread it."

Healthcare providers are now finding out that when it comes to treatment, not all work the same with the new variant.

Right now, there are three different brands of monoclonal antibody treatment being used, but only one - Sotrovimab - is effective against omicron.

Valleywise, Banner and Honor Health hospitals have confirmed that they are pausing the infusion altogether until more supply arrives.

"We know we've been allocated resources through FEMA," said White. "We are awaiting communication with regards if they will pivot and be able to use Sotrovimab therapy instead of Regeneron."

Five Valley hospitals are expecting a team of FEMA workers and more Sotrovimab to arrive by mid-January.

"We have been currently doing them in our emergency department, our goal is to move them into the infusion center with this team," White said.

The Arizona Dept. of Health Services say the federal government has allocated just shy of 50,000 courses of Sotrovimab to hospitals nationwide this week. Another allocation is expected to be released to state on Jan. 3.

Meanwhile, doctors can now prescribe a new, oral antiviral pill to treat COVID patients. Arizona health officials expect to receive about 1,100 doses of Paxlovid treatment in the coming weeks, and the medication will be sent to various pharmacies across the state.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

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