Summit County Public Health leaders discuss availability of monoclonal antibody therapy and antiviral pills |

Summit County Public Health leaders discuss availability of monoclonal antibody therapy and antiviral pills

Both treatments are currently in short supply and not readily available

St. Anthony Summit Hospital Pharmacy Manager Brent Morris accepts 180 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from a courier Dec. 16, 2020. It’s now been a full year since Summit County has been administering COVID-19 vaccines to the community.
St. Anthony Summit Hospital/Courtesy photo

While Summit County officials are still vouching for COVID-19 vaccines as the most effective way to prevent serious cases and death caused by the virus, newer therapeutic treatments could help decrease chances of severe cases.

During a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, Summit County Public Health Director Amy Wineland gave an update on the county’s situation with the virus and shared news about some of these newer treatments.

According to the county’s website, the community’s incidence rate is down slightly from earlier this month to 349 cases per 100,000 people for the past 28 days.

During her presentation, Wineland stressed that adults ages 16 and older should get a booster shot but that other treatments, such as the monoclonal antibody therapy, are available in the community.

Wineland said the monoclonal antibody therapy is available at St. Anthony Summit Hospital and St. Anthony Breckenridge Mountain Clinic.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website, the treatment is for individuals who are not hospitalized but have a high risk of developing a severe case. That includes individuals who are 65 and older, pregnant or have chronic kidney disease or diabetes, in addition other conditions.

During the presentation, Summit County Commissioners Elisabeth Lawrence and Tamara Pogue asked Wineland about potential discrepancies in who is eligible for the treatment at the hospital. Lawrence said she had a personal experience with this regarding her daughter.

“She was referred by the physician to get that, and then the physician at the hospital said, ‘No, we save it for more severe cases,’ even though her physician considered it a severe case,” Lawrence said. “It’s very interesting how they determine that. It’s safe to say that Centura is trying to hold onto them for the absolute most severe (cases).”

Summit County Public Affairs Coordinator Adam Kisiel wrote in an email that Wineland followed up with Centura Health and confirmed the organization was following eligibility criteria. The hospital is also requiring an additional COVID-19 test to access the treatment as of Nov. 19.

Lawrence said in the meeting that this was one more reason why individuals should get a booster since the treatment isn’t widely available.

The treatment can be given as an infusion or an injection, and Wineland said she’s met with local providers to see if they’d be interested in providing injections. So far, none have expressed interest.

“We haven’t had any of our providers step up to take the state up on that offer, but we’ll continue to push out that information and that resource for providers who might consider doing this, as well,” Wineland said.

In addition to monoclonal antibody therapy, Wineland said her team is excited about the rollout of antiviral pills, which Pfizer and Merck have available. These pills can be taken in the first couple of days after testing positive for COVID-19 and have shown to decrease a person’s chances for hospitalization and death.

“The state will only be getting about 1,000 courses of this treatment initially, but it will be ramped up over the next several weeks,” Wineland said. “They are going to really target where these treatments are going.”

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