Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the Biden administration to send a crucial COVID-19 treatment and testing kits to the state amid the Omicron coronavirus variant surge.
Abbott, a Republican, announced on Dec. 31 that the state had requested resources from the federal government, including monoclonal antibodies.
“Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus,” he said in a statement.
“While the Biden administration has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and testing kits when they are needed most, the State of Texas is urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans. Testing sites, additional medical staff, and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was asked to set up testing sites in six Texas counties dealing with a high number of COVID-19 cases, including Bexar, Cameron, and Dallas counties.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has also requested an additional supply of sotrovimab, monoclonal antibodies produced by GlaxoSmithKline.
Monoclonal antibodies are one of the most successful treatments to keep people who get COVID-19 out of hospitals, thus helping ensure that facilities don’t get overwhelmed during case surges.
However, the federal government controls most of the treatment, and two days before Christmas, it paused allocation to states of all doses not made by GlaxoSmithKline because of emerging data indicating they’re not successful against the Omicron variant.
The government has continued to ship sotrovimab, but there aren’t enough doses being sent out to keep up with demand.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said last week that the Biden administration was “actively preventing” access to monoclonals and urged the administration to ease restrictions on supply.
The Biden administration announced on Dec. 31 that it was rolling back the pause and would send monoclonals to any states that order them. The administration didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Even though the Omicron variant became the dominant variant in the United States in December, the Delta variant continues to circulate, and all monoclonals are good at preventing hospitalizations among those with Delta, experts say.