COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Shortly before the Christmas holiday, St. Joseph Health started seeing a significant rise in what health officials believe are cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
St. Joseph announced the temporary closure of its College Station infusion center just two days before Christmas.
For several months, the College Station hospital location had been offering Regeneron and Eli Lilly brand antibodies to infected patients.
“With the omicron variant, we have found that the two we have had access to at S. Joseph are ineffective," said Dr. Kia Parsi, chief medical officer for St. Joseph Health.
"The only one that is effective is a monoclonal antibody formulation that we have not had access to.”
Parsi said that the GlaxoSmithKline drug Sotrovimab is what they need, but this British medication is currently in limited supply for the United States.
The drug has to be rationed throughout the U.S.
St. Joseph is waiting on the state to confirm allocation of Sotrovimab before reopening the infusion clinic.
“Monoclonal antibodies are not a risk-free infusion," Parsi said. "There is a chance of adverse outcomes, having side effects... And knowing that every case we’re seeing is omicron, the benefits don’t outweigh the risks.”
Parsi said St. Joseph is confident that all their cases of COVID-19 are omicron now, as they are able to notice omicron-like proteins in their hospital tests. Any samples given to the health department for formal variant testing have come back positive for omicron.
But, not every medical establishment is having to stop giving infusions.
In Rockdale, Milam County’s small Gotham-run infusion clinic will continue running, thanks to an arrangement with the Texas Department of Emergency Management [TDEM].
“Today we had another conversation about that, same thing – please let me keep the infusion clinic here!'" relayed Milam County Judge Steve Young.
"And they’ve tentatively agreed to let us have it for another 30 days... And they’re going to have the new drug next week, or at least they plan to, for the next variant we’re going to deal with.”
Baylor Scott & White of College Station said that they have been able to get their hands on a limited amount of the Sotrobimav drug for their patients, and are still offering infusions to those infected.