WH: GlaxoSmithKline’s Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Is the Only One Effective Against Omicron Variant

By Melanie Arter | December 23, 2021 | 10:35am EST
Jeff Zients, the White House's Covid-19 response czar, speaks during a press briefing at the White House where they spoke about a pause in issuing the Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine on April 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeff Zients, the White House's Covid-19 response czar, speaks during a press briefing at the White House where they spoke about a pause in issuing the Johnson & Johnson Janssen Covid-19 vaccine on April 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - The White House COVID-19 response team announced Wednesday that it has ordered more than 1 million treatment courses of GlaxoSmithKline’s monoclonal antibody treatment after discovering that two out of the three monoclonal antibody treatments are ineffective against the Omicron variant.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients warned that “due to Omicron’s highly transmissible nature, we will see fully vaccinated people get COVID. They’ll likely be asymptomatic or will feel under the weather for a few days.”

Let me walk through the three types of treatments, starting with monoclonal antibody treatments, which have proven to be highly effective. Since July, we have deployed 2.7 million monoclonal antibody treatment courses to help keep people out of the hospital and save lives.

From the moment we learned of Omicron, we began assessing our existing monoclonal antibody treatments, and we learned that two of the three existing treatments are not effective against the new variant. Fortunately, GlaxoSmithKline’s monoclonal antibody treatment is effective, so we acted quickly to secure more supply of it.

We’re doubling — more than doubling the supply of GSK’s monoclonal to more than 1 million treatment courses, with 300,000 treatment courses available in January, and we’ve already begun making this drug available to every state and territory.

Next, let me touch on a preventive treatment from AstraZeneca, which is especially important for certain immunocompromised individuals at high risk. Many of these immunocompromised people are not able to get the level of protection they need from a vaccine alone.

We will have more than half a million doses of AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody treatments on hand in January, and we’re preparing to purchase significantly more across the next three months, and finally, let me provide an update on antivirals.

ZIents also announced that the FDA authorized the use of an antiviral pill for at-home treatment.

We got good news today with the authorization of Pfizer’s antiviral. Merck’s pill, if authorized, along with Pfizer’s newly authorized pill, add oral treatment options to our nation’s medicine cabinet.

As soon as emerging science showed the promise of these antivirals, we acted quickly and aggressively to pre-purchase 10 million treatment courses of Pfizer and 3 million courses of Merck. For Merck, by end of January, we anticipate about 3 million treatment courses available to send to states if FDA authorizes.

The Pfizer team has a very promising and now authorized treatment: a pill that dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalizations and death for those at risk. We’ve purchased 10 million courses, more than anyone else in the world.

According to Pfizer, the complex chemistry involved in creating the active ingredient in the pill means production takes about six to eight months.  So, supply of this product will ramp up over the next several months. 

Knowing that these pills take time to manufacture, Pfizer continues to increase their production plans, and now that the pill is authorized, we will have discussions to explore how we can help them improve their manufacturing capacity even further by providing any resources needed.

We will have 265,000 treatment courses of Pfizer available in January, with monthly totals of pills ramping up across the year and all 10 million treatment courses delivered by late summer. As quickly as Pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered, we will immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution.

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