US health officials stockpiling monoclonal antibody treatments for omicron

Washington DC: Health officials are stockpiling a monoclonal antibody treatment that has been shown to be effective against omicron in preparation for the variant to become dominant in the United States.

David Kessler, chief scientific officer of the White House COVID-19 response team, said treatments of sotrovimab were paused to states after Thanksgiving in order to stockpile for the omicron variant, The Washington Post reported.

Currently, the delta variant is still the most common strain in the U.S., and other monoclonal antibody treatments are effective against it. However, those same treatments haven’t proven as effective against omicron as strovimab.

Health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said omicron is expected to become the dominant variant in the upcoming weeks. However, President Biden said he does not plan to shut down the economy and will focus on the coronavirus booster shot campaign to combat the variant.

Pharmaceutical company GSK determined at the beginning of December that strovimab was able to attack regions of the spike protein in the omicron variant that were less likely to mutate and could bind itself to the protein in order to stop its spread in the body and increase immune response.

George Scangos, chief executive of Vir, one of the companies that created the treatment, told The Post that the strategy of stockpiling storyimab was a good one.

“The strategy of the U.S. government has been to ship those now because delta is still the predominant strain,” Scangos said, referring to the other treatments. “Those antibodies are still going to be providing benefit to patients. Given that everybody expects omicron to take over, they are reserving sotrovimab for early next year. That makes complete sense.”

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