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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Demand has soared in recent weeks for monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: Monoclonal antibodies — the treatment then-President Trump received when he got COVID — had a slow initial uptake, but are now gaining ground in the pandemic's fourth wave.

Driving the news: A handful of states with low vaccination rates and little willingness to take other safety precautions are leading the charge to make these treatments more available.

  • Texas and Florida have recently opened state-funded infusion sites.

By the numbers: Since mid-July, delivery of the antibody cocktail made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals jumped from about 25,000 doses per week to 125,000 doses per week — with about half shipped to Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, a company spokeswoman told Kaiser Health News.

Details: The treatments significantly reduce the risk of severe infection in people who have contracted COVID-19. They're most effective within about a week of infection, Brandon Webb, an infectious diseases physician at Intermountain Healthcare told Axios.

  • A real-world analysis published this month in Open Forum Infectious Diseases found high-risk patients treated with monoclonal antibody infusions were 31% less likely to need emergency care or hospital admission.
  • That translates into preventing one hospitalization for every eight patients treated, Webb said. "That's where you get the most bang for your buck," he said.

Yes, but: Monoclonal antibodies are resource-intensive and are no substitute for a vaccine, experts warn.

  • "The vaccines serve as the best and first line of defense. The vaccines are the way to keep from getting infected in the first place and a more effective way of, if infections do happen, being far less likely to end up in a hospital," Dan Roth, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health System told Axios.
  • "Monoclonal antibodies should serve as a second line of defense," he said.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

Illinois mandates daycare workers to receive COVID vaccine or weekly testing

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students in October 2018. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Friday that all daycare workers in the state will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or or submit to weekly testing.

Driving the news: Pritzker said he was issuing the requirement to protect "babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine."

22 hours ago - Health

CDC director: U.S. may change definition of "fully vaccinated" as boosters roll out

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the U.S. "may need to update" its definition for what it means to have full vaccination against COVID.

The big picture: The CDC and the FDA have officially approved boosters with every authorized vaccine in the U.S. for people who meet specific requirements. Walensky explained that since not everyone is eligible for a booster, the definition has not been changed "yet."

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.