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Texas has Abundance of Antibody Treatments Called Evusheld for the Immunocompromised Due to Low Requests From Providers

Publication: Spectrum News Austin
02/12/2022

AUSTIN, Texas — A new monoclonal antibody treatment called Evusheld for the immunocompromised has been available for providers and patients since early January, but health experts in Texas say people aren’t asking for it. 

A study by Johns Hopkins University found only 17% of immunocompromised people produce antibodies from the COVID-19 vaccine. Evusheld might save the lives of those who don’t.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment for pre-exposure use with immunocompromised patients in late December. It's different from Sotrovimab for people who currently have a mild-to-moderate case of COVID and are at high risk of severe illness from COVID.

The federal government is rationing the supply, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue yet. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, it currently has more supply available than requested by providers.

This week, 3,912 courses were sent to Texas, and there have been 432 provider requests for the product. 

“We have enough of this medicine right now in the state,” Dr. David Lakey, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force, said. “It’s just not being used to the extent that it needs to be. People aren’t asking for it.” 

At the end of January, the federal government shipped 400,000 doses, with 1.2 million doses ordered. About 7 million people who are immunocompromised could benefit from the drug, all at a higher risk of having a severe COVID-19 case.

“When we look into the hospitals as to who is having serious illnesses with COVID-19, it’s patients that are not vaccinated, and patients that are vaccinated who are immunocompromised,” said Dr. Debra Patt, executive vice president of Texas Oncology.

Elizabeth Whitley is immunocompromised. She takes medication that suppresses her immune system following a kidney transplant. She thought her saving grace would be the COVID-19 vaccine, but after taking the shot multiple times, she had no antibodies to show for it. 

“It says my blood sample collected on 11-8 of last year was negative for COVID antibodies,” Whitley said, reading her COVID-19 vaccine results for antibodies.

The results were part of the study by Johns Hopkins. The medication Whitley takes post-kidney transplant makes her immunocompromised.

“You have to take medication to not reject your organ,” Whitley said.

Over 7 million people across the country fall into the category of immunocompromised, but now, like Elizabeth, they may go back to a semi-normal life with Evusheld.

“Some patients may still not have an adequate immune response,” Dr. Debra Patt said, referring to response from the COVID-19 vaccine. “Evusheld can help to be additionally protective.”

According to the FDA, it has a 77% reduction rate at developing symptomatic COVID symptoms for the immunocompromised.

“We’re basically trying to find her some Evusheld,” Whitley said, referring to a conversation she had with someone on social media.

Whitley posted about the antibody treatment on her social media pages, reaching others in her position. With every post Whitley says she’s one step closer to getting more people protected, and saving lives.

“I’m really hoping that this new medicine is going to do something for not only me, but people like me,” Whitley said. 

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