NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Facilities providing monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 are preparing for a possible supply shortage. It comes at time when the Tennessee Department of Health is recommending who should be prioritized for the treatment.

"What we know is that we have enough supply to last this week and next week, we don't know what it looks like after that,” Kim Lippard with the VUMC monoclonal antibody infusion clinic said.

The treatment has skyrocketed in popularity. Since the clinic opened in November, VUMC said the number of patients they’ve seen per day has tripled.

"There has to be prioritization especially when we're put in the situation of we only have a limited resource,” Lippard said.

Lippard is the manager for Vanderbilt’s monoclonal antibody infusion clinic. It’s a treatment for COVID-19.

"The whole goal is to target the highest risk population especially as we look at there potentially being a supply issue, we want to make sure that we are using that precious resource for the individuals that it's going to make the greatest impact for,” Lippard said.

The treatment uses lab-made proteins that work in your body. They attach to pieces of the virus and help your immune system fight it.

"If we're looking at whose our greatest risk for hospitalization and death, unvaccinated, automatically, number one thing we think of. I think we have to be careful in saying that all vaccinated individuals would not need monoclonal antibodies,” Lippard said.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be able to get the treatment. The state has the following criteria:

  • Your COVID-19 test comes back positive
  • You are not hospitalized
  • You have had mild to moderate symptoms that started less than 10 days ago
  • You have certain medical conditions or other factors that may place adults and pediatric patients (age 12-17 years, and weight at least 88 lbs.) at higher risk of progressing to severe infection:
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Obese or overweight which may include a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or higher for adults or a BMI in the 85th percentile or higher on the growth chart for pediatric patients
  • Pregnant
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Immunosuppressive disease, or on immunosuppressive treatment
  • Cardiovascular disease (including congenital heart disease) or hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), moderate to severe asthma, cystic fibrosis, or pulmonary hypertension
  • Sickle cell disease

"Having screening criteria isn't new for monoclonal antibodies. I think the recommendations kind of add in the fact of are people vaccinated or not,” Lippard said.

The TN Department of Health issued a statement on Tuesday:

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.

For Lippard, she hopes the recommendations will help people understand the importance of getting vaccinated.

"And that it's important to be proactive and to not wait until you have covid and hope that you can get a treatment that's out there,” Lippard said.

Lippard said most of the patients getting the treatment are not vaccinated. She stresses it should not be seen as a substitute for getting vaccinated.

Lippard says Vanderbilt is in the process of adjusting their screening measures to include asking about vaccination status.

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