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Austin infusion centers exhaust COVID antibody supply, citing national shortage

Shipments of the sotrovimab body will return in January. (Pexels)

Austin’s supply of monoclonal antibodies that can fight the omicron COVID variant has dwindled to none as state health officials report infusion centers all over Texas are cleaned out of their supplies.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, infusion centers in Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth and The Woodlands are out of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab. Sotrovimab is the only antibody proven effective in fighting the omicron variant, which accounts for more than 90% of new COVID-19 cases.

Monoclonal antibody treatments target people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have only just developed symptoms. The treatment is offered via IV in a hospital or clinic setting and takes about an hour to administer. They are meant to help neutralize the virus in patients who have already become ill and have been shown to prevent hospitalizations.

Texas DSHS said the shortage stems from the federal government, which “controls the distribution of monoclonal antibodies,” citing a national shortage. No new shipments are expected until sometime in January.

Infusion centers will not be able to offer sotrovimab treatments but will continue to offer other monoclonal antibody treatments for non-omicron cases. Those with existing appointments for the sotrovimab will be contacted directly.

Though the antibody is unavailable for the time being, the Food and Drug Administration authorized two new oral antiviral drugs that are expected to become available soon, albeit in limited supply to start. Distribution for the new drugs will also be controlled by the federal government.

Austin is on the verge of another surge with a high community transmission rate and 469 new cases of COVID reported Monday. Health authorities are continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated, booster shots and take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.


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