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Experts say common monoclonal antibody treatments don’t work against Omicron

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 11:31 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - During the Delta variant surge, doctors used monoclonal antibody treatments to prevent hundreds of COVID hospitalizations.

But as an Omicron surge nears, infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Saag said we won’t be able to rely on these treatments.

Saag said that after lab testing, the two most common treatments for COVID-19, made by Regeneron and Lilly, will not be effective against the Omicron variant. Saag said 85% of hospitalizations were prevented with treatments from the two companies, but those will only work now against Delta.

He said this means more people will likely end up hospitalized because Omicron is so much more infectious. It is reported to be around eight times more infectious than the original COVID strain.

Saag said there is another treatment, called Sotrovimab, that will soon be distributed across the county, but it doesn’t have a large supply.

“We are hoping the supply will hold out,” Saag said.

He also said the newly FDA approved COVID treatment pill also doesn’t seem to protect against the Omicron variant as well as they hoped.

“The Merck product doesn’t quite work as well as we had once thought,” Saag said. “It’s probably not going to be a tremendous help. It’s maybe going to be on the market in the next couple weeks.”

Makers of the Regeneron and Lilly monoclonal antibody treatments said they will begin working on treatments that attack the Omicron variant, but those won’t launch for several more months.

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