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With monoclonal antibodies in demand, will we see supply go up?

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -With the concern about supply of monoclonal antibodies, some may wonder if its time to ramp up development the way we saw with the vaccine.

Right now, its unclear if we’ll see an Operation Warp Speed-type initiative. The Biden administration says it’s ramping up efforts to distribute the therapeutics, but some doctors in the state feel the government’s new approach to ration the treatments is not enough.

Monoclonal antibodies mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful viruses like COVID-19. More and more people are receiving the antibodies. Their popularity is due to how effective they are.

“The demand for monoclonal antibodies has skyrocketed as its effectiveness has really proven out over the last eight or nine months,” Dr. Michael Saag, infectious disease expert at UAB said.

Dr. Saag says as of a few weeks ago there was ample supply of monoclonal antibody treatments. But as more people awaken to the benefits, demand keeps soaring. To try and get a handle on that, the federal government is taking over the supply and allocating monoclonal antibody treatments through state agencies based on COVID-19 cases reported each week.

“It’s kind of like the way that a lot of car manufacturers work now, they don’t stock up on their parts, they have same day delivery or day before delivery of the parts they are going to need for the car tomorrow. That’s kind of the model that we’re going to nationwide to make sure there’s equitable distribution of product throughout the country,” Saag said.

Some doctors are concerned that federal efforts could limit access to the treatments. The president of the Medical Association of Alabama says the federal government should provide more not less because hospitals are full and under tremendous stress.

Health leaders have been stressing that monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for the vaccine. They say more people getting the shot is the best way for us to get out of this pandemic.

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