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Newspaper: Maine monoclonal doses drop with testing backlog

January 23, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s backlog of 46,000 positive COVID-19 tests artificially lowered its numbers of confirmed cases, coinciding with a reduction in the amount of lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatments shipped to the state.

Shipments of sotrovimab, one of few medications that are effective against the omicron variant, are rationed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based on hospitalizations and new cases over the previous seven days, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Last week Maine received 72 doses of sotrovimab, less than half of the 180 doses given to New Hampshire and fewer than the 96 doses give to Vermont. New Hampshire’s hospitalization numbers are on par with Maine, while Vermont’s hospitalization rate is lower.

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Before supplies became constrained last month, Northern Light Health providers were administering three times the doses as they are able to do now, said Matt Marston, vice president of pharmacy at Northern Light.

“From a supply side standpoint we are still in a time of scarcity, that’s for sure, and that’s a situation shared by all health care providers in the state,” he told the newspaper.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed that the backlog skewed the state’s new case reporting but suggested it may not be cause of disparity in sotrovimab allocations.

“The posted HHS formula may seem clear, but allocations have not conformed to the formula,” said Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long.

Shah blamed the backlog on a “tsunami” of new omicron cases and said his staff is working to reduce the backlog.