In a typical week in June, monoclonal antibodies were given to only 10 people across the entire Houston metropolitan area.Now, though, demand is skyrocketing.This week, about 1,200 Houston-area patients will receive REGN-COV, a monoclonal antibody made by the drug company Regeneron of Tarrytown, New York.
“We’ve seen an exponential rise in demand,” said Dr. Howard Huang, who has led Houston Methodist Hospital’s monoclonal antibody effort. Regeneron sent out fewer than 25,000 doses a week nationwide in mid-July. Now, the Health and Human Services department is shipping about 168,000 doses a week, with 78% of the orders going regions of the country with low vaccination rates.
And demand for sotrovimab, another monoclonal antibody authorized for use against COVID-19, has spiked almost 300% over the past month.
The push, Huang said, probably comes from the surge of COVID-19 cases, better public awareness of the drugs and doctors’ successful experiences with them earlier in the pandemic.
“The biggest change is the delta variant and the surge in infection rates that’s happening all over the country,” said Alexandra Bowie, a spokesperson for Regeneron. Still, more people could benefit from them, presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a White House news conference on Tuesday.He described monoclonal antibodies as “a much-underutilized intervention” in the fight against COVID-19 and said he wants people “to realize the advantage of this very effective way of treating early infection.