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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Only a minority of patients are receiving some of the most promising coronavirus treatments.

Why it matters: COVID-19 is almost certainly going to be part of our lives for a long time, even with high vaccination rates. Antibody treatments could make it much less deadly — but only if patients get them.

Driving the news: Two still-unpublished studies found that two specific antibody therapies can prevent hospitalization and death among high-risk people with mild or moderate COVID-19 infections, Nature reports.

  • An antibody developed by Vir Biotechnology and GSK reduced the likelihood of hospitalization or death among clinical trial participants by 85%.
  • The second, an antibody cocktail developed by Eli Lilly, reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 87%.
  • “It is not a replacement for vaccines, but it is a plan B,” Jens Lundgren, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet, told Nature.

Yes, but: Only about 1 in every 6 or 7 coronavirus patients eligible to receive antibody treatments are actually receiving them, said Janelle Sabo, who leads COVID-19 therapeutics at Lilly.

  • That’s an improvement from December and January, when only 1 of every 20 to 30 high-risk patients were receiving the treatments, she said.
  • “The majority are not being treated with the neutralizing antibody, despite the wide availability of it,” Sabo said.

The federal government put the number higher, saying that 37% of outpatients at high risk of developing severe symptoms and hospitalization nationally now receive the antibody therapies.

  • "We are actively working to increase awareness of therapeutics and to provide them to more types of sites such as urgent care clinics, physician’s offices, and ambulatory infusion sites," an administration official said.

How it works: Antibody therapies — like the Regeneron treatment that then-President Trump received when he caught the coronavirus — are most effective when they're administered early.

  • That means patients would need test positive soon after they are infected. But people often don’t get tested until they are feeling sick, which could be too late.
  • Once confirmed positive, a patient then has to have a conversation with a doctor who can connect that patient with a treatment center that infuses the therapies.
  • “The issue is people aren’t going to their primary care physicians to get tested. They’re going to community centers and the pharmacy,” Sabo said. That “puts a burden on the patient that typically in the health care transaction they don’t have.”
  • Finally, that patient has to get to the infusion center.

The bottom line: “We still don’t know much about long haulers and reinfection rates and variants,” Sabo said. “I think it would be premature to say [COVID]’s become manageable if you’re not vaccinated.”

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker