Ferris City Manager Worried State Again not Prepared for Omicron Surge

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Concerns Center Around Therapeutic Treatment (Monoclonal Antibody) Supply

FERRIS – The City of Ferris’ Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Center opened in September 2021 and Ferris City Manager Brooks Williams said they are concerned there will be a shortage of new treatments with Sotrovimab, in the immediate future.

“We know that Regeneron has an efficacy of about 30%-40% against the Omicron variant. Sotrovimab has an efficacy of about 80%. This is a critical and life saving therapy that needs to be available. Yet again, we are seeing the same hiccups in distribution that we saw with the vaccine and that we saw with Regeneron. When is a lesson learned and the process improved?”, asks Williams.

The new monoclonal antibody with Sotrovimab is being said to combat the most recent COVID-19 Omicron variant with more efficacy than the Delta variant Regeneron monoclonal antibody. Sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology received Emergency Use Authorization in May.

According to reporting by the New York Times, the government allocated 55,000 sotrovimab doses to states.  Those shipments are expected to arrive as soon as this week. In January, GSK is expected to deliver 300,000 more doses to the United States.

Repeating The Same Mistakes

“We, as government officials, continue to ask the public to trust us, but we continue to make the same mistakes over and over,” said Williams who was one of the key players in the opening of the Monoclonal Antibody Center in Ellis County.

“How many times do we have to be caught flat-footed before we will realize that proper and prior planning prevents pitiful performance – performance in this instance being the availability of vaccines and or therapeutic treatments for people who are being told to get the vaccines, get the therapeutic treatments, but are left empty handed when it comes to where to get the treatment right now,” Williams said.

The City Manager is concerned the same situation will soon be happening with the Omicron therapy (Sotrovimab) rollout, which happened previously with the Delta variant therapy (Regeneron) rollout.

“It happened with the monoclonal antibody rollout of Regeneron, and now we’re seeing it with the new therapeutic treatment using Sotrovimab,” Williams stated. “How many times are we going to accept the excuses that are given for why we aren’t better prepared to deploy these treatments?”

Ferris Center Offers COVID-19 Vaccines, Tests & Treatment

The Ferris Center is the only COVID-19 treatment, testing and vaccine center in Ellis County. The location also offers boosters and flu shots. It is staffed by MDLab. Drug costs are covered by state and federal funding, so the treatment is free of charge.

Since the center opened in September there have been over 1,700 doses administered of Regeneron.

Williams said the expectation is that the same treatment flow for the most recent variant should be made available for Ellis County residents with no hassle.

He said the State of Texas has a shipment that should have arrived today or tomorrow with additional Sotrovimab and some REGEN-COV, but he added “After those shipments went out, the state of Texas has zero monoclonal antibodies available to send to any provider. It is unclear when we will receive the next allocation from the United States Health and Human Services. Demand outpaces supply by many times over and we are now being encouraged to refer to the NIH guidelines for developing our own protocols for prioritizing the use of this scarce resource. To put that in simple terms the State is saying they can’t help and figure out who needs it the most and turn the rest away. It is unacceptable.”

The center will be open Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm, but closed the 25th and 26th of December.

Williams Urges Officials To Remove Roadblocks and Red Tape

When the Center in Ferris opened hospitals in Ellis County were over capacity, but afterward dropped to less than 10% of the hospitals having COVID-19 patients.

Williams said he is concerned that a new wave of the variant, which Americans are being warned to look out for, will mean lack of supplies. Thus impacting all residents in the metroplex. “We do not know if we will receive another allocation this coming Monday or if it will be after that,” Williams said.

Williams said he is calling on all elected officials at the state and federal level to, “Remove all barriers, all roadblocks, all administrative red tape, and get the doses to the sites so that lives can be saved. People on the ground, people on the front line are ready to deploy this drug, people on the front line are ready to keep our hospitals from being overrun, people on the front line are ready to see lives saved, people on the front line believe in and see the positive effects of these therapeutic drugs and need the supply immediately.”

*As of 12/22 there are 19 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized in Ellis County and 579 active cases.