LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Monoclonal antibodies, one of the most effective defenses against COVID-19 after contracting the disease, are in short supply.

Some versions that were particularly effective against early COVID-19 variants are not having the same success against omicron. But the latest version appears days away from approval here in Michigan.

“Now that the state is moving toward approval of a new monoclonal antibody that’s more effective against the omicron variant, we have spent the last couple of days making sure we are ready with our criteria,” said Dr. Michael Zaroukian, an internal medicine specialist at Sparrow Health System.

Zaroukian says Sparrow already has 136 doses on hand and a few dozen more are scheduled to come this week, which is good new for those who are waiting.

“We’re ready to start using it as soon as we get the word from the state,” he said.

So what’s the hold up?

Zaroukian says the state needs data to show that more than 80 percent of new cases are from omicron before it gives the green light.

As for how the priority groups are chosen for monoclonal antibodies:

“There are tiers of priority that have been established,” Zaroukian said. “We look at those most likely to benefit, not those who may or may not have followed a course of treatment we would have preferred, we’re here to treat those who can benefit most.”

In layman’s terms, that means it’s more likely they will go to those who are unvaccinated, as opposed to those who have had their shots, since the former has a higher risk. 

As for the order of who gets what first, there is a tiered system in place.

“The people who are in the highest priority are those who are moderately or severely immuno-comprised,” Zaroukian said. “With them at the top of the list are people who are 75-years-old who haven’t had complete immunization series.”

“Pregnant patients who are not completely vaccinated would also be very high.”

After that, he says it goes to those 65 and up who aren’t fully vaccinated, or have a Michigan priority criteria like obesity, respiratory disease, or diabetes.

While he’s looking forward to the treatment getting the okay, Zaroukian says it won’t solve the problem.

“Our demand has been as many as 160 in a week,” Zaroukian said, “So you can imagine what we have is going to go fast.”