Omicron is rendering antibody drugs useless

Two widely-used treatments are now being halted by the FDA
In this May 2020 photo provided by Eli Lilly, researchers prepare cells to produce possible COVID-19 antibodies for testing in a laboratory in Indianapolis. Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated. (David Morrison/Eli Lilly via AP)

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The FDA is halting the use of COVID-19 antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly because they are ineffective against the omicron variant.

An estimated 99% of current positive cases in the U.S. are omicron.  The drugs are designed to give a patient concentrated doses of one or two antibodies in the first few days of infection in order to decrease likelihood of death and serious health issues.

Two new versions of the drug from Pfizer and Merck are thought to be effective, as well as an older version from GlaxoSmithKline, but all three pills remain in short supply.

Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have continued to heavily promote Regeneron and Eli Lilly, stating that they have helped some omicron patients.

None of the antibody drugs can be used as a vaccine substitute.  They have previously only been used for patients who are the most vulnerable, such as transplant recipients, those with heart conditions and diabetes, and seniors.  Former President Donald Trump had been given Regeneron in 2020 when he tested positive for COVID-19.

Regeneron and Eli Lilly have both announced that they are working on a newer version of their antibodies that will better target the omicron variant.  The FDA said they could reauthorize their use in the future if they prove to be effective.

Categories: Coronavirus, Health, News, Top Stories, US & World