JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health says it is prioritizing the use of the monoclonal antibody therapies (MAB) for those who are at higher risk for a severe COVID infection, according to a release from Ballad Health.

This comes amid updated guidance by the National Institutes of Health as the nation faces a shortage of monoclonal antibody therapies that are effective against the omicron variant, according to the release.

The release from Ballad states that the MAB therapies that were used to treat previous variants, such as the delta variant, have been ineffective against the new omicron variant which is now the dominant strain in the region.

The limited number of MAB therapies that are effective against the omicron variant is now in short supply nationwide.

The health system says it continues to order additional therapies, but supply remains limited.

Ballad says that the request for the treatment has far outpaced what they have available and they will now be reserving the MAB therapies for the patients who are at the highest risk of having a severe case of COVID.

The release from Ballad also adds that patients now have access to the recently FDA-approved antiviral pills made by Merk and Pfizer.

Those who do not qualify for the MAB treatment can ask their healthcare provider if they may qualify for other COVID-19 therapeutics such as antiviral pills, according to the release.

Ballad says with the limited number of effective MAB treatments available, vaccination is the best way to minimize the effects of the virus.