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Covid Live Updates: White House Promises More Covid Treatments

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The Biden administration plans to buy more Covid treatments, but doctors are nervous about the coming weeks.

Image“We have more tools than ever before to protect people,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a news briefing on Wednesday. "Vaccinations, boosters testing and treatments.”
Credit…Tom Brenner/Reuters

The White House announced Wednesday that it was ramping up purchases of Covid treatments, as federal health officials tried to reassure Americans that it was safe to travel during the holiday season — so long as they are vaccinated and avoid large gatherings.

One day after President Biden announced a new strategy to combat the staggering increase in coronavirus cases being fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, his coronavirus response team sought to remind the public that the nation was far better off than at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Let me reiterate what the president said yesterday: This is not March 2020,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at an afternoon news briefing. “We have more tools than ever before to protect people: vaccinations, boosters, testing and treatments.”

Mr. Zients said the administration would double its existing supply — to more than one million doses — of sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology that is expected to work for Omicron cases. The drug, aimed at preventing high-risk Covid patients from developing severe disease, has been in very limited supply.

The product is one of three monoclonal antibody treatments authorized for recently diagnosed Covid patients, but the other two are not likely to be effective against the Omicron variant.

The federal government had previously ordered about 450,000 treatment courses of the GlaxoSmithKline treatment, including 300,000 expected in January. Now, the company is expected to make available about 600,000 additional doses in February and March, officials said.

Physicians across the United States, though, are worried about the days immediately ahead. Hospital officials in Houston, Chicago and Washington State said on Wednesday that they had stopped providing the monoclonal antibodies made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron, which had been a mainstay of treatment, because they were not effective against Omicron. Top New York City hospitals made the same decision in recent days.

The effective formula, sotrovimab, is for now in s

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