UCSF Fresno pauses monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Food and Drug Administration is limiting the authorization of certain monoclonal antibody treatments that don't effectively work against the Omicron variant.

UCSF Fresno announced it will no longer offer the once-promising treatment because it has been essentially deemed useless against the highly contagious Omicron variant.

"The effectiveness has declined and that's the only reason," said Dr. Sukjit Dhillion

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system's ability to fight off items such as viruses.

Over the past year, UCSF Fresno says they had been treating up to 15 patients a day with the antibody treatment but like most parts of the country, Omicron is now the dominant variant in Fresno County.

"It might be that a few people still have Delta, it's a possibility but if more than 20% of the population is testing for a specific variant, then that's the one that's most likely taken over the county," said Dr. Sukjit Dhillion

Officials say the antibody treatment now most recommended is Sotrovimab -- however, it is short supply.

"We don't have it available at this site but if you go to the Fresno County website, they have multiple sites that are offering MAB -- you can call to see if any of them offer sotrovimab and that's the specific one that's effective against Omicron."

UCSF Fresno will continue to store the supply of monoclonal antibodies it currently has while they wait for direction from local health experts.

"We're keeping them stored at their appropriate temperature and depending on what we need to do, we'll talk to the county on if we need to redistribute them or what do we do with them."

Pfizer and BioNTech announced they have begun a clinical trial for an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine they've created.
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