Texas exhausts supply of monoclonal antibody treatment as omicron cases surge

Tips on what to do after testing positive for COVID

If you've tested positive for COVID, here's what doctors are advising you to do.

New isolation guidelines

HOUSTON – The isolation for people with COVID is now a little shorter. On Monday, the CDC said people who don’t have symptoms only need to isolate for five days and then proceed to wear a mask for the following five.

“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” according to the guidelines on the CDC website.

Recover at home

According to the Texas Medical Center, last week was the largest weekly average of daily new cases on record with 5,053 new cases per day. TMC said this surpasses the Delta spike and previous holiday spike.

Dr. Joshua Septimus, the director of Same Day Clinics at Houston Methodist, said most people are fine to recover at home, and a positive result is no reason to panic.

“I wouldn’t go to the emergency room unless you’re short of breath,” said Septimus while noting the ERs are again exceptionally busy.

However, if you’re in bad health, he said to notify your doctor if you have a COVID infection because if you do experience life-threatening symptoms (like being short of breath), you may need to get treatment within a few days.

“You can’t wait until you decompensate and get [severely] sick before you ask for help,” he said.

Antiviral Pills

New antiviral pills by Merck and Pfizer may keep people out of the hospital and prevent severe infections. The good news is, Pfizer is tremendously effective. The bad news is, Texas has not received any yet.

The federal government hasn’t allocated any to our area, but that’s expected to change soon, according to Memorial Hermann infectious disease specialist Linda Yancey.

“Since there will be a scarcity of these, they’re probably going to be reserved for high-risk individuals,” Dr. Yancey explained. “Ideally speaking, at some point when we have supply, anybody who comes in with COVID will be given a five-day prescription of these pills, and what they do is they decrease the chances to severe illness, hospitalizations and death.”

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are one outpatient treatment option that was working well against previous variants. However, two of the main three brands do not work against Omicron.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said on Monday the supply of monoclonal antibodies has been depleted, and they say there won’t be any more until January.

Vitamin D

Many doctors encourage you to take over-the-counter supplements to boost your immune system with mild COVID infections, Septimus said the only one he really thinks is worth taking is vitamin D.

He recommends no more than 2,000 IUs.