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Alabama healthcare providers concerned about monoclonal antibody supply

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 8:46 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - This week, the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to come up with a new and fair method of distributing monoclonal antibodies to healthcare providers across the state.

The treatment is a valuable resource to keep people out of the hospital with severe cases of COVID.

Health and Human Services changed the rules last week. Rather than sending monoclonal antibodies directly to healthcare providers, now all of the shipments will go to the Alabama Department of Public Health for distribution. Hospitals do fear the new method will reduce their usual supply.

Alabama hospitals are seeing the number of COVID patients and the demand for ICU beds drop, but healthcare leaders say those numbers are still high.

“We still have almost 700 - 672 in the ICU. Still almost 500 on ventilators. So for patients who are seriously ill, they are still in hospitals,” said Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said they have sent out notices to healthcare providers to send in their order for monoclonal antibodies. ADPH will then send in requests to HHS. Alabama’s allotment is determined by the number of COVID cases reported each week.

“It’s more than 250 sites. We got up to over 280. I’m not sure they are still doing it. We have them scattered all over the state,” Harris said.

Alabama has been averaging about 8,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies each week. The number dropped to 2,700 the week of the order change. Alabama’s COVID numbers are dropping.

“As we get less cases that is good thing no matter how you look at it, but it means our allocation is going to be reduced proportionately,” Harris said.

Healthcare providers are expecting to see their shipments cut.

“I worry some of those who would normally get the monoclonals won’t get the monoclonals. Some will be hospitalized when hospitalizations could have been avoided,” Williamson said.

Sort of a Catch-22. The Alabama Department of Public Health hoped to know Wednesday about the state’s monoclonal antibody allotment. Alabama state and federal leaders have already complained to HHS about a possible drop in the state’s shipment.

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