White House Promises Equitable Shares From $3B COVID Treatment Buy As Use Picks Up In Oklahoma

Sep 17, 2021

The White House says a COVID-19 treatment the federal government recently spent almost $3 billion on will be distributed according to states' needs, just as demand for it grows in Oklahoma. 

"Our role as the government overseeing the entire country is to be equitable in how we distribute. We are not going to give a greater percentage to Florida over Oklahoma," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing.

That represents a break from former policy, when both awareness and demand for monoclonal antibody treatment was low. Until recently, 70% of distribution was going to states with low vaccination rates, like Mississippi and Alabama.

But as demand for monoclonal antibodies has grown, the government has stepped in and is also purchasing more. On Sept. 14, pharmaceutical company Regeneron announced it had reached a deal with with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense to supply another 1.4 million doses at $2.9 billion, or $2,100 a dose.

Under the new distribution plan, officials will examine hospitalization data and case rates, then determine how much to give.

OSU Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Damon Baker said Friday their use of monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron recently spiked.

"We've infused about 200 patients since this surge began in July, the majority of those occurring this month," Baker said.

OSU Medical Center and Saint Francis have Tulsa’s two infusion centers. Baker said so far, all their COVID-positive patients receiving the treatment have avoided hospitalization, and some have seen symptoms clear within 48 hours.

"Regeneron, in my opinion, is the only effective therapy that we have for COVID-19 right now," Baker said.

Baker said OSU Medical Center is seeing much younger COVID patients now than in the winter. The average age of someone in their COVID ICU last week was 46, and doctors and nurses commonly care for patients in their 20s.