COVID-19 treatments, vaccine could be in Texas by year’s end


The first medical treatments developed for people who contract COVID-19 and vaccines to prevent the disease could be available in Texas by the end of the year.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the immediate use of an antibody drug manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co., called bamlanivimab, which has been shown to improve the symptoms of people who contract the virus and prevent hospitalizations.

The drug is authorized for patients at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, including people 65 and older or those who have certain pre-existing medical conditions.

Lilly is expected to immediately ship approximately 80,000 doses across the country, including Texas, according to a news release from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Lilly should have up to one million doses available by the end of the year.

Similar to the Lilly antibody treatment, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. also has requested FDA emergency use authorization of its own COVID-19 antibody medical treatment. 

The federal government has agreed to buy hundreds of thousands of doses of the two new drugs and will be in charge of allocating supplies to the states, which will in turn determine distribution to hospitals and health care facilities. It is likely that the doses will be allocated to states and U.S. territories based on their share of hospitalized and infected patients, according to Abbott’s announcement.

These medical treatments are in addition to the announcement earlier this week by Pfizer that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate demonstrated over 90% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. It is expected to become available as soon as late November.

The Department of State Health Services has developed a Vaccine Distribution Plan and is working to get health care providers enrolled to be eligible to administer the vaccines once available, according to Abbott. Over 2,500 providers have already enrolled, according to Abbott. 

“Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus, and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans,” said Abbott. “As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the state of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans who voluntarily choose to use them.” Texas recorded its highest single-day total for new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

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