Governor Greg Abbott announced that the State of Texas has prepared allocation plans to swiftly distribute medicines and vaccines that are now becoming available to treat COVID-19.
Monday was the first day of what will be many announcements in the coming weeks about the availability of medicines and vaccines to combat COVID-19.
“Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus, and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the State of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans who voluntarily choose to use them.”
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the immediate use of the first medical treatment developed for people who contract COVID-19. An antibody drug by Eli Lilly & Co., called bamlanivimab, has been shown to improve the symptoms of people who contract the virus and prevent hospitalizations.
The FDA said the drug is authorized for patients at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, including people 65 and older, or who have certain pre-existing medical conditions.
Lilly is expected to immediately ship approximately 80,000 doses across the country, including Texas, at no cost to the states. Lilly should have up to one million doses by the end of the year.
Similar to the Lilly antibody treatment, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. also has requested FDA emergency use authorization of its own COVID-19 antibody medical treatment to treat patients before they become seriously ill and aid in reducing hospitalizations, with an announcement of the FDA’s decision expected soon. This is the same antibody drug that President Donald Trump took to quickly recover from COVID-19 last month.
The federal government has agreed to buy hundreds of thousands of doses of the two new treatment drugs and will be in charge of allocating supplies to the states, which will in turn determine distribution to hospitals and healthcare facilities. It is likely that the doses will be allocated to states and U.S. territories based on their share of hospitalized and infected patients.
These medical treatments are in addition to the announcement yesterday by Pfizer that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate achieved incredible success in an early analysis — demonstrating over 90% efficacy in preventing COVID-19. It is expected to become available as soon as late November.
The State of Texas has already prepared to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines and medical treatments.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has already developed a Vaccine Distribution Plan and is working with health care providers to enroll in their Immunization Program to be eligible to administer these vaccines once available. Over 2,500 providers have already enrolled in the program. DSHS formed an Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel to develop vaccine allocation strategies.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is prepared to assist the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. In late October, TDEM hosted the State of Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Tabletop Exercise – over 1,000 local, state, federal, and non-governmental organization partners came together to test the state’s vaccine support plan, understand its operational procedures, and examine their roles and responsibilities.