PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Effective Wednesday, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment will no longer provide monoclonal antibody treatments to people in Pueblo. The department stated the antibody treatments are no longer effective in treating the omicron variant, the predominant variant in Pueblo County.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, due to the mutations in the omicron variant, only one of the three monoclonal antibodies authorized for treatment (sotromivab) is likely to be effective against this variant of COVID.

"The challenge with effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies is related to the large number of mutations present in the omicron variant compared to earlier lineages of COVID-19," State Epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, said.

The omicron variants mutations have made the other two monoclonal antibodies, Bamlanivimab/etesevimab and REGEN-COV, ineffective. They will not be allocated in areas with greater than 80% omicron prevalence. That number includes Pueblo County.

"There are three currently available monoclonal antibody treatments and two of them have been shown in multiple research studies that they have lost their effectiveness against the omicron variant," Pueblo Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Chris Urbina, said.

The state of Colorado received 774 doses of sotrovimab, 740 doses of Bamlanivimab/etesevimab, and 888 doses of REGEN-COV from the federal government this week.

According to CDPHE, they expect the amount of sotrovimab doses given to Colorado to increase as production increases nationally.

Additionally, two new antiviral treatment options, molnupiravir and Paxlovid, will help increase the availability of effective treatments for COVID-19 for Coloradans.

"We were hopeful that if you gave these monoclonal antibody treatments early on an infection that it could potentially neutralize the virus, stop it from invading your body and reduce the severity of the disease," Dr. Urbina said.

Those who get the monoclonal antibody treatments first will be vulnerable individuals and treating the most at-risk while ensuring equitable distribution. 

Overall, the introduction of the omicron variant to the general populations has presented a number of challenges, no matter the mitigation or treatment option.

"The virus is changing. We knew that the virus was evolving over a period of time and this particular variant, the omicron variant, has been able to evade our immune system," Dr. Urbina said. "So our vaccines are a little less effective, and we now have to encourage people to get a booster. If you have had a previous infection, your immunity is also waining."  

No timetable has been given for the return of the monoclonal antibody site in Pueblo. 

Source link