The Mississippi State Department of Health reported almost 2,700 cases just this morning, showing just how quickly the highly contagious omicron variant is spreading throughout the state. Photo credit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via Unsplash.
As the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., the Mississippi State Department of Health reported a skyrocketing number of COVID-19 cases this week. MSDH reported 2,698 new cases today alone, along with 22 fatalities.
MSDH also reported a total of 7,058 cases from Dec. 22 to Dec. 26, marking an average of over 1,500 cases per day for the last seven days, significantly raising the number of cases per day compared to the pre-omicron average.
Outbreaks among long-term care facilities are also on the rise, with MSDH reporting 86 current outbreaks. The increase constitutes almost a doubling of outbreaks in just two weeks.
Making matters worse, MSDH is reporting a shortage of effective monoclonal antibody treatments—long the go-to treatment for those unvaccinated patients diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as at-risk vaccinated patients.
The shortage is due to two previously standard MAB treatments no longer showing efficacy in fighting off the omicron variant. That leaves one treatment, GlaxoSmithKline’s sotrovimab, as the remaining MAB treatment against severe illness.
“Omicron has figured out how to get around our two treatment options,” Former President of the Mississippi State Medical Association Dr. Mark Horne said of the shortage. “We’re down to option number three, which is very good, we just don’t have as much of it.”
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs noted the MAB shortage over Twitter this morning, urging Mississipians to stay safe and get fully vaccinated. Mississippi received less than 400 doses of MAB treatments this week.
“Prevention is the best medicine,” Dobbs tweeted. “Be safe—avoid Omicron. Get boosted.”
Alternative medical treatments for COVID-19 are increasing, however, with the approval of several oral medications. Pills from both Pfizer and Merck gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval recently, though the new medications may take time to arrive in large enough numbers to cope with the surge in cases.
Rising case numbers in turn have caused a nationwide shortage of at-home test kits—a sometimes much more affordable option than turning to testing at private clinics. MSDH tested over 81,000 people in the last week with one in nine testing positive for COVID-19, a positivity rate double that of just one week prior.
President Joe Biden recently announced a program delivering at-home test kits throughout the United States, though that program has yet to even begin allowing online sign-ups for deliveries.
As of publishing time, the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s website for free drive-through testing shows complete unavailability for Hinds County this week.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].