HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — There’s a growing concern in the Tampa Bay area after the federal government announced it would cut Florida’s allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments.
So far local medical experts say they aren’t seeing a shortage of these life-saving treatments, but they are concerned it could happen.
In recent months the delta variant has caused COVID-19 cases to surge in Florida, and that created soaring demand for monoclonal antibody treatments.
Dr. John Greene, Chief of Infectious Disease with Moffitt Cancer Center said they give the treatment to help keep patients with weakened immune systems out of the hospital.
“We’ve had dramatic success with preventing people from being half hospitalized and getting deathly ill,” said Dr. Greene.
The concern comes after the White House announced cuts will be made to the allocation of the monoclonal antibody treatment for seven southern states — including Florida — because they have been using about 70 percent of the nation’s supply.
“There’s great concerns by us, Tampa General and other hospitals that with the new distribution system, we could have problems getting access to the drug,” said Dr. Greene. “But we haven’t had any issues yet.”
“I think it became concerning that places where Covid was going wild, people weren’t taking the measures that they should to prevent themselves from getting Covid, and they weren’t vaccinated, and so then they were basically sucking up the entire supply that the federal government was buying,” said Dr. Kami Kim, Director of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida.
While the treatment has proven effective Dr. Kim said other measures should be taken first, to make sure people who really need the treatment have access.
“We have something that works very well, that will treat Covid if you get it, but you don’t want to get Covid in the first place. So you should use appropriate masking, social distancing if you’re in a risky area and you should get vaccinated,” said Dr. Kim.
Dr. Greene said if needed, sharing doses among the local hospitals would hopefully help keep any potential shortage to a minimum.