Race Is Being Prioritized In Guidance For Administering COVID Drugs

Guidance from the Biden Administration says that individuals may be considered “high risk” and quickly receive monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals for COVID-19 based on “race or ethnicity”.

A Food and Drug Administration fact sheet issued for healthcare providers says that they approved emergency use authorizations of sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody, only for “high risk” patients.

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The guidance, which was updated in December, states that “medical conditions or factors” like “race or ethnicity” could “place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19”.

Other conditions and factors that make an individual “high risk” include diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, old age, and cardiovascular disease.

Some states have already begun prioritizing certain racial minorities over other highrisk patients for the distribution of COVID treatments.

New York’s Department of Health recently released a document with a plan to distribute treatments such as monoclonal antibody treatment and antiviral pills.

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According to the plan, an individual must have “a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness” in order to receive antiviral pills.

“Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,” it said.

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In Utah, guidlines for the distribution of monoclonal antibodies state that “non-white race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity” receive two points for their “COVID-19 risk score”.

“Race/ethnicity continues to be a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease, and the Utah COVID Risk Score is one approach to address equitable access to hard hit communities,” the guidance said.

Clinicians and health systems in Minnesota are advised to “consider heightened risk of progression to severe COVID-19 associated with race and ethnicity when determining eligibility” for distributing COVID treatments.


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