As immunocompromised people across the country work to obtain Evusheld, a potentially life-saving COVID-19 therapy, several hundred injection providers were removed from a federal dataset late Wednesday, making the therapy even harder to track down. .
White House officials had announced on Tuesday that a planned purchase of more doses would have to be scaled back without new federal funding.
And federal and state health departments aren’t facilitating the search, leaving patients whose hospitals say they don’t have enough medicine to write desperate tweets and Facebook posts asking for the shots while unused vials lie found in refrigerators from other suppliers. Few states list on their websites where residents can find Evusheld — most provide no information or a link to an incomplete federal map.
The therapy consists of a pair of monoclonal antibody injections designed to prevent COVID infection. It received emergency use authorization in December for people aged 12 and over who are moderately to severely immunocompromised or unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons – more than seven million people. For those who haven’t responded to a COVID vaccine, it could offer life-saving protection.
According to White House officials, the United States will likely run out of Evusheld by the end of the year.
The week before the White House announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly told Kaiser Health News that the problem was the supply, not the money. HHS spokeswoman Elleen Kane has repeatedly said the federal government has purchased every dose of Evusheld that AstraZeneca can supply in 2022. But an AstraZeneca spokesperson who declined to be named said told KHN that more were available for purchase. HHS did not respond to questions about the planned purchase.
HHS expects to receive enough Evusheld for 850,000 people by the end of the year, Kane said last week. Even if all those doses arrived, the supply would be far short of what is needed to treat the millions of people it could benefit.
So far, enough doses to treat 229,000 people have been sent to providers and about a quarter of those have been used, according to Kane.
After two years of immunocompromised people being left behind by the federal government, “the least the Biden administration can do is procure more than enough Evusheld so that everyone who is “eligible can receive the therapy, said Matthew Cortland, a senior researcher working on health care and disability issues at Data for Progress, a left-wing think tank.
KHN’s analysis of Evusheld vendor data released by HHS found that, through Wednesday, a data file released by HHS included several hundred vendors that were omitted from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator map. , more user-friendly.
On Wednesday evening, HHS updated the downloadable data file for the first time in eight days, removing hundreds of providers who had not reported the number of doses of Evusheld they had used during the week. last. Several columns of data were also removed, including the total number of doses that had been delivered to each site and the most recent delivery date. This information was not publicly available elsewhere; now, people looking for Evusheld won’t find these providers on any federal website, and data analysts can’t keep up with the rate at which the therapy is being used.
In Pennsylvania, the federal location map shows only one-third of hospitals and clinics that received Evusheld, according to KHN’s analysis.
Several major Philadelphia hospitals that received Evusheld are excluded from the federal map, including Einstein Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. They are among two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s Evusheld vendors who do not regularly report the number of doses they used for HHS.
These systems did not respond to requests for comment.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center offers Evusheld to anyone who is eligible on the recommendation of a doctor, according to Erin McCreary, director of innovation in antimicrobial stewardship and an infectious disease pharmacist who helped lead the Evusheld deployment of the system. But until last week, people searching for Evusheld in Pennsylvania would not have found UPMC on the federal locator map.
When the health system, which has 40 hospitals and several hundred ambulatory care centers, first obtained Evusheld, its supplies were so limited that it had to run a lottery for about 20,000 of its most vulnerable patients. risk.
More than 1,650 people have now received Evusheld in 22 clinics across the system. McCreary said word is now being spread via a webpage, social media, a flyer and a video sent to eligible patients.
McCreary said people from as far away as Seattle, where UW Medicine still uses a lottery system, have asked if they can get Evusheld at UPMC.
HHS requires providers to record the amount of Evusheld they have used in a federal system each business day. McCreary sent weekly numbers to the state health department, but she said her team didn’t realize they also had to fill out the federal form.
Within three days of a KHN reporter asking about the omission, UPMC began releasing its numbers. UPMC is now visible on the HHS map. But since all of his doses are sent to a central pharmacy, only that location appears on the map instead of the 22 clinics where Evusheld is administered.
Kaiser Health News, part of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, reports on national health issues.