Supply for popular COVID-19 therapy decreasing for some Texas infusion centers as demand rises, officials say

Each infusion costs taxpayers $2,100, Bexar County judge says

SAN ANTONIO – The monoclonal antibody treatment used to help people who test positive for COVID-19 recover quickly may have less availability in some communities as demand increases nationally.

Whitney Robinson tested positive for the coronavirus a week ago, and within a few days, friends told her to seek monoclonal infusion therapy. By the end of the week, she had successfully been treated.

“Not knowing how bad COVID-19 can affect you and how fast it can take you down no matter if you’re healthy, young -- it took me down fast,” she said as she quarantined from home.

Robinson was a vaccine skeptic, but after her experience, she wishes she would have gotten the COVID-19 shot.

“After contracting COVID-19, that’s my biggest regret,” she said.

She said she feels lucky to have found out about monoclonal infusion and that she could get it with a call to her doctor.

“Having that done, I just feel it’s such an amazing treatment. It should be talked about more,” Robinson said.

The therapy has become so popular that the federal government is pulling back on orders to centers to avoid a shortage. Bexar County Judge Wolff says the demand on the therapy seems to be due to unvaccinated people who get infected and seek out the treatment as a cure to avoid hospitalizations.

“People need to realize those infusions cost $2,100, paid by taxpayers. As opposed to a shot that costs $20,” Wolff said.

BCFS, which runs the Bexar County Infusion center, says since Aug. 10, they have provided 4,627 infusions. Of those, 4,591 were adults, and 36 were between the ages of 12 and 17.

On Monday, the center provided 105 infusions. It can do up to 144 infusions daily.

Medina Healthcare System is one of those centers impacted by a pullback in the federal government’s supply to centers.

A spokesperson for the hospital said infusions started in mid-August 2021, and staff performed about 10 monoclonal antibody treatments per day on primarily unvaccinated patients.

The following is a statement from the health care facility:

“Medina Healthcare System was notified last week that because of increased demands we would not be allocated as much as we had been receiving and a different ordering process would be instituted. We were notified yesterday that we would receive about 25 this week; prior to that we kept 100 on hand. We were notified that this decreased allotment was due to the increase in demand, leading to a short supply of the antibodies.”

Through the Division of Emergency Management, the state of Texas increased the number of orders for the infusion center in Seguin. The center will go from about 25 to 30 treatments daily to 50.

Robinson is urging people who can get vaccinated to do so. She says she plans on getting the vaccine in about 90 days.

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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.