Omicron resistance prompts Logan Health to halt antibody program

Omicron resistance prompts Logan Health to halt antibody program

People walk past a new sign for Logan Health at the entrance to the hospital in Kalispell on Tuesday, May 19, 2021. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake)

Logan Health’s monoclonal antibody program that has successfully treated thousands of Covid-19 patients ended last week after emerging guidelines indicate that available treatments are not effective against the highly contagious omicron variant.

According to Jesse Arneson, the infusion supervisor at Logan Health, hospital leadership made the decision to pull the plug on the program as omicron became the dominant variant in the region — accounting for up to 90% of all positive cases. The program stopped taking orders Jan. 13.

Monoclonal antibodies provide passive immunity by giving the body antibodies to protect itself. Treatment can help limit the amount of virus in the body, which then helps symptoms to remain milder and improve sooner. The treatments were credited for helping keep hospitalizations in check during the Covid surge last fall.

Arneson estimates that well over 2,000 people were treated at the Logan Health antibody program.

“For the time of the delta wave, we felt really fortunate to have that option,” Arneson said.

Most recently, the Logan Health program was administering Regeneron using subcutaneous injections. While the shots worked well on the delta variant, the federal medical research agency National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that omicron is predicted to have “markedly reduced susceptibility” and the treatment is no longer recommended.

Meanwhile, the one antibody treatment that has proven to be effective against omicron, Sotrovimab, is in short supply across the U.S.

In fact, Logan Health has just eight vials of the treatment on hand, and there is no clear timeframe on when more might become available.

“The supply is very, very limited,” said Dr. Cory Short, Logan Health hospitalist and physician executive of acute care services.

Short also noted that Sotrovimab will have to be administered through intravenous infusions, as opposed to simple injections.“Even if we had a supply, it’s a challenge [to administer],” he said.Remdesivir is another tool available at Logan Health to treat omicron patients, and Short said the hospital is actively looking at setting up an outpatient program using that treatment.Short said there could be logistical challenges with administering Remdesivir because it requires three days of intravenous infusions for the omicron variant. SHORT CONTINUES to recommend Covid vaccines as an important line of defense against the virus, but notes that they aren’t as effective against omicron.On Wednesday, nearly half […]

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