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.
Due to national shortage from the federal government of the monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, regional infusion centers across Texas have exhausted supply until January.
People who had appointments scheduled this week will be contacted.
Learn more: https://t.co/RJyzo7S8qRpic.twitter.com/f57ZsudtP1
— Texas DSHS (@TexasDSHS) December 27, 2021
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.
- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
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- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."