Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday warned residents of his state that they may not be able to get monoclonal antibody treatments due to a national “shortage” that has been driven by surges in demand in states with low coronavirus vaccination rates.
The Republican warned residents against “placing faith” in the treatments, which have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19, in a video message and corresponding press release.
“What this shortage ought to tell you is that if you’re unvaccinated and you get really sick, not only might there not be a bed in the hospital for you because they are so full, but that monoclonal antibody treatment might not be there for you either,” Beshear said.
He stressed that vaccines are the best way to protect against the coronavirus as it spreads across the state, which is reporting an average of 5,274 new cases (118 per 100,000 residents), 2,578 new hospitalizations (58 per 100,000) and 31.7 new deaths (0.71 per 100,000) each day, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
50%. That’s the percentage of Kentucky residents who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 59% have had at least one dose, according to The Times. This is below the national rate of 54% fully vaccinated and 63% partially vaccinated.
“I have a concern that some Kentuckians who are hesitant about the vaccine are placing faith in monoclonal antibodies,” Beshear said in the video message. “But now we have learned from the federal government there are going to be shortages going forward.”
The federal government earlier this month warned seven states that had been relying heavily on monoclonal antibody treatments amid Covid-19 surges that they would have to cut back on their orders due to rising demand nationwide. States with low vaccination rates have been setting up more and more monoclonal antibody treatment centers to stave off hospitalizations. A senior Department of Health and Human Services official told Forbes the change is temporary while the government continues “actively working to procure more products.”
While not a replacement for vaccines, monoclonal antibodies have been proven an effective treatment for those infected with Covid-19. The antibodies, which are mass produced in a lab, mimic the body’s immune response to the coronavirus. They are infused into patients with an IV and ramp up the body’s internal fight against the disease. Four different monoclonal antibody treatments have been granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and have proven largely effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid-19. The treatment developed by Regeneron, for example, reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 70% in studies.
Doctors with the Medical Association of the State of Alabama on Monday said they are “very concerned” about the federal government limiting supply of the treatment, saying in a statement that it should be helping “provide more of this treatment … not less” at a time when Alabama’s hospitals are already “full and under tremendous stress.”