TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) — Guidance on both a state and federal level has changed for medical providers who distribute monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19 patients.

The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services reported that the Delta variant has caused “a substantial surge in the utilization of monoclonal antibody drugs, particularly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates.”

The department said the change in distribution protocol allows for more flexibility to get the treatments to areas where it is most needed.

In a statement Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health shared the following statement with News Channel 11 regarding its monoclonal antibody distribution procedures:

“Our recommendation to monoclonal antibody providers or individual facilities across the state is if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment, the NIH guidelines are the recommended approach for that prioritization, including prioritizing those who are most likely to be hospitalized.  Ultimately, this comes down to providers’ clinical judgment to ensure those most at risk are receiving this treatment.  Providers across the state continue to receive supply of the treatment; however, we do not have an update on allocation for this week.”

Bill Christian, TDH

In a statement Thursday, Ballad Health told News Channel 11 that there is no substitute for COVID-19 prevention and vaccination, but there are promising treatments if a patient gets infected, especially if cases are caught early.

“Monoclonal antibodies are one of the best options to keep people out of the hospital,” the statement said.

Since monoclonal antibody treatment received its Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last December, Ballad Health has provided 2,504 infusions to date. And, as cases grow, so too will the demand, the hospital system maintained.

“Ballad Health wants our patients to know that the process for getting MAB treatment will not change at this time – patients will still go through their provider to get referred for monoclonal antibody treatment at Ballad Health’s clinics, and we’ll accommodate as many people as we’re able with the supply we have been provided by the States,” the statement continued. “Ballad Health will continue to follow state guidelines and advocate for the best interests for all of our patients.”

COVID-19 treatment guidelines outlined by the National Institute of Health can be found HERE.