FRANKFORT, Ky. — Due to a national supply shortage and rising demand nationwide, Gov. Andy Beshear said the federal government will change how COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatments are distributed and it could affect Kentuckians.
State governments will now supervise the distribution of the treatments since health care providers will no longer be able to order them directly. Those distributions will be capped and delivered to them weekly.
Gov. Beshear said he’s concerned about those who are still hesitant about getting vaccinated and putting their faith in the antibodies.
“What this shortage ought to tell you is that if you’re unvaccinated and you get really sick, not only might there not be a bed in the hospital for you because they are so full, but that monoclonal antibody treatment might not be there for you either,” Beshear said. “That thing you’re counting on might not be available. What is available, and there are no supply issues at all, are these safe and effective vaccines.”
Dr. Steven Stack said the monoclonal antibodies are synthetic, lab-created antibodies. These antibodies give patients a temporary immune boost which helps those who are sick have a milder disease. Stack said they don’t teach a patient’s body how to create its own antibodies.
“Monoclonal antibodies are an important tool, but we have another alternative, vaccinations. Vaccines prime your immune system to create natural antibodies that your own body will produce to create a natural immune response that then can protect you for at least eight months or more,” Dr. Stack explained. “It’s a lot easier to get vaccinated than to get monoclonal antibodies.”
Kentucky used 3,642 treatment courses of monoclonal antibodies during the week ending Sept. 7.
For now, hospitals have 9,363 monoclonal antibody treatments on hand, and they are available at 139 locations across the commonwealth.
Louisville Public Health officials said they are not aware of a shortage locally that would prevent treatment.
Gov. Beshear said he will continue doing everything he can to get the antibodies to as many health care facilities as possible due to the shortage.