COVID-19 Update: Omicron, Distribution of Therapeutics and Other COVID-19 News
Iowa's first case of the Omicron variant was detected in Black Hawk county in an individual under the age of 18. Research continues to understand more about the Omicron variant, and the CDC provides regular updates on the variant as more information is discovered. Despite increased attention of Omicron, Delta continues to be the main variant in the United States. Vaccine manufacturers Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson continue to conduct research and provide updates on the Omicron variant.
A new formulation of the Pfizer vaccine for adults/adolescents, known as Comirnaty, will be available to Iowa healthcare providers. To learn more about the changes read the IDPH Vaccine Information Brief here. Johnson & Johnson has announced preliminary results of their COVID-19 booster shot which is evaluating the efficacy of a booster following completion of 2-doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Evusheld (tixagevimab/cilgavimab), AstraZeneca's long-acting monoclonal antibody treatment for pre-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19, received FDA authorization for emergency use. The treatment is intended for use in immunocompromised patient populations. The FDA expanded the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster to include individuals aged 16 and 17 years, at least 6 months after the completion of their primary 2-dose series. The FDA expanded authorization for the use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab to include all younger pediatric patients, including newborns. The fact sheet for use of Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibodies can be found here.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) hosted a webinar on Monday updating stakeholders on the state's allocation of the COVID-19 therapeutics, molnupiravir and Evusheld. Iowa will be receiving less than one percent of the nation's supply each allocation period. IDPH has identified 21 locations, which are the state's Influenza Sentinel Surveillance sites, to receive the initial allocations of the oral antivirals. Of the 21 identified sites, those that provide chemotherapy will be eligible to receive allocations of the Aztrazeneca long-acting monoclonal antibody treatment. IDPH is not currently planning to use community pharmacies as primary dispensing sites. IDPH plans to expand the distribution and allocation of the oral antivirals in the future. Regulation 657 IAC 7.12(3)(a)(1) allows an inpatient hospital pharmacy to dispense a full course of the oral antiviral treatment to patients in the emergency department. Under this scenario, symptomatic patients presenting to the emergency department would be tested for COVID-19 and if received a positive test result, would be able to receive treatment.
The CDC announced updated travel requirements for international travelers. Starting December 6, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States. If planning to travel abroad, it is advised to check any COVID-19 travel requirements.