Packed Mid-Michigan hospitals running out of effective COVID treatment

Demand strains monoclonal antibody supply
Packed Mid-Michigan hospitals running out of effective COVID treatment
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:30 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Hospitals across the country, including in Mid-Michigan, are running out of effective treatments for the worst cases of COVID-19.

Now doctors are limiting who can get monoclonal antibodies.

“We are very concerned about what’s going to come in the days ahead,” said Dr. Daniel Cunningham, Henry Ford Medical Director of Infection Prevention.

Doctors are getting ready for January to be the worst one so far during the pandemic. Michigan is seeing a clear spike in new COVID infections, driven by the omicron variant.

Jan 4, 2022: Michigan COVID cases up to 1,568,573 and 27,286 deaths

There’s only one authorized monoclonal antibody treatment that’s working on the new strain, but Dr. Cunningham said there’s not enough to meet the demand.

“We are down to our last 30 doses of monoclonal antibodies today,” said Dr. Cunningham.

Henry Ford did get another shipment of monoclonal antibodies from the state Tuesday, but it was no more than another 300 doses.

Monoclonal antibodies use man-made molecules to trigger the patient’s immune system.

The treatment is designed for people who are at risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID.

And Henry Ford Health System is limiting who can get the treatment to people 75 or older, use supplemental oxygen, on dialysis, obese, immunocompromised and pregnant.

“If we start using the monoclonal antibodies the same way we have used them before, the risk benefits are not in favor of us doing that. This is why we want at the present time to focus on making sure we give the monoclonal antibodies the most effective,” said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford Health System Chief Clinical Officer.

The state health department is getting only 1,572 doses that work against omicron next week, not nearly enough to send to every hospital in the state.

Sparrow didn’t have any of those doses Tuesday, making it harder for doctors to treat patients.

“We don’t want to give a treatment that could just cause side effects and not have a benefit. Probably the biggest thing is we’re trying to make sure the people the right drug. Because for the first time with COVID it matters,” said Todd Belding, Sparrow Pharmacy Director.

Belding said Sparrow is getting about 60 doses of the monoclonal antibodies that work against omicron this week, but that will only last about a day and a half.

Related: Where to get COVID testing in Mid-Michigan

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