Tennessee Department of Health officials said this week that only the unvaccinated should take monoclonal antibody treatments.
Monoclonal antibodies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. Houston Methodist said monoclonal antibody infusion treats COVID-19 and can help prevent hospitalizations, “reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity.”
Tennessee Department of Health spokesman Bill Christian discussed the matter Tuesday.
“HHS [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] recently informed states of disruptions to the federal supply chain for monoclonal antibody products. Our recommendation to monoclonal antibody providers or individual facilities across the state is if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment, the NIH [National Institutes of Health] guidelines are the recommended approach for that prioritization, including prioritizing those who are most likely to be hospitalized,” Christian told The Tennessee Star via email Tuesday.
“Ultimately, this comes down to providers’ clinical judgment to ensure those most at risk are receiving this treatment. Providers across the state continue to receive supply of the treatment; however, we do not have an update on allocation for this week.”
Staff for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee did not immediately return a request for comment. Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), also did not return requests for comment before Tuesday’s stated deadline.
Tennessee State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), who is scheduled to be a guest Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy radio program, broadcast weekday mornings on TalkRadio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC, discussed monoclonal antibody treatments at a rally last week. There, hundreds of Tennesseans expressed their displeasure with COVID-19 mandates and the lack of a special session of the Tennessee General Assembly to fight them.
“We have reached the point in escalation where the federal government is targeting the great state of Tennessee,” Cepicky said.
“They are rationing our Monoclonal antibodies that can save Tennesseeans. They are telling you what you have to do to your body. It’s time to say enough.”
The Epoch Times reported Tuesday that Tennessee health officials recommend that only the unvaccinated get monoclonal antibody treatments because of federal government rationing.
“Because vaccinated people are less likely to require hospitalization after getting COVID-19, healthcare providers should consider prioritizing unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people who are at high risk of getting severe cases of the disease, Meredith Chuk, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official, told state officials in a call last week. Another population that should be prioritized over individuals predicted to have an “adequate immune response” is those who are vaccinated but have weak immune systems,” The Epoch Times reported.
“Additionally, providers should make sure to prioritize using monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 over using them on people who have been exposed to the disease but who have not yet tested positive for it.”
The Epoch Times article quoted TDOH Commissioner Lisa Piercey regarding the doses administered under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
“The EUA is only for people with these conditions, and that’s been the same since day one,” Tennessee Health Commissioner Piercey reportedly said.
“The new thing is the NIH criteria of, well, even if you have those conditions, but you’re vaccinated, you don’t get it now.”
The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel’s Statement on the Prioritization of Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibodies for the Treatment or Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Infection When There Are Logistical Constraints, released on September 3, 2021, stated, “While there are currently no shortages of these monoclonal antibodies, logistical constraints (e.g., limited space, not enough staff who can administer therapy) can make it difficult to administer these agents to all eligible patients. In situations where it is necessary to triage eligible patients, the Panel suggests:
- Prioritizing the treatment of COVID-19 over PEP of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- Prioritizing the following groups over vaccinated individuals who are expected to have mounted an adequate immune response:
- Unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals who are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19
- Vaccinated individuals who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response (e.g., immunocompromised individuals).
Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) is scheduled to appear on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy radio program Thursday morning to discuss the issue.
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