NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed they recommend monoclonal antibody providers to prioritize distributing the treatment to those who are “most likely to be hospitalized.”
The department provided a statement to NewsChannel 5 on Tuesday as several states grapple with a high demand for antibody treatment.
While the department of health did not explicitly say they recommend the treatment for those who are not vaccinated, TDH officials said they believe providers should adhere to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines, which recommends using the treatment for “unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals who are at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 and vaccinated individuals who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response (e.g., immunocompromised individuals).”
That’s already part of the screening process at Physicians Urgent Care in Brentwood, who said last week they would have run out of the treatment had the state not agreed to send them additional doses.
Last week, Physicians Urgent Care told NewsChannel 5 that almost all their patients are unvaccinated and have some form of underlying condition. They have seen very few breakthrough cases, but enough that Dr. Brady Allen says they would rather treat as many people who fit the criteria as possible.
"We certainly don't want any other parties standing in between physicians and their patients getting an approved or an emergency medication that may have a benefit for COVID," said Allen.
Read TDH’s full statement below:
“Our recommendation to monoclonal antibody providers or individual facilities across the state is if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment, the NIH guidelines are the recommended approach for that prioritization, including prioritizing those who are most likely to be hospitalized. 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.”
The treatment is not considered a cure but can be thought of as a dramatic boost to your immune system. The antibodies help you to better fight off mild to medium COVID-19 symptoms. However, the window for when you are eligible for treatment is only between your fourth and tenth day of infection. The CDC also recommends you wait at least 90 days after your treatment before you can get the vaccine. Which could mean return visits for anyone experiencing these symptoms more than once.
Tennessee is one of seven states that accounted for at least 70 percent of orders in the beginning of the month. Some have criticized these states for relying too much on this treatment and not enough on masks and vaccines. Dr. Allen advises all his patients to get vaccinated, but says this is about saving lives any way we can.
"So when we see patients whether they're vaccinated or not vaccinated, it doesn't affect the way that we care for them," Allen said.
As of last week, the Biden administration was working to accelerate manufacturing the treatments from 100,000 doses per week to 150,000.