In yet more bad news about the omicron variant of COVID-19, hospitals have found that two of the three monoclonal antibody treatments that have been keeping serious disease at bay for many coronavirus patients do not appear to work against this variant. The one that still does is, not surprisingly, in short supply, with many hospitals having none left, the New York Times reports. Sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology and authorized for use in May, is still performing well against omicron, but treatments made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron (and authorized for use earlier) have proved so ineffective that some hospitals are not using them anymore. The White House is working to secure more doses of sotrovimab by early next year, an administration source says.
Antiviral drugs, however, appear to still be working against omicron, Politico reports. Doctors are turning to Gilead’s intravenous antiviral remdesivir, and new antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck developed specifically to treat COVID are expected to be authorized this week. Regeneron and Eli Lilly are also working on developing monoclonal antibodies specifically for omicron, but those treatments are still months away. For now, difficult conversations are being had. One doctor who has a fully vaccinated patient with leukemia who developed COVID and is in need of an antibody treatment that is not available tells NBC News, "I’m watching people die. I’m watching it." The first omicron death in the US was an unvaccinated man in Texas earlier this month, KHOU reports. (Read more coronavirus stories.)