SALINAS, Calif. (KION)
The issue is supply and demand. Monterey County’s supply of remdesivir is empty.
Remdesivir is the only drug known to work as a treatment against COVID-19 and is authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Supply remains limited, and doses are allocated to the states based on the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. California distributes remdesivir to the counties' Medical and Health Operational Area Coordinator.
“The current supply for the entire county is depleted,” Dr. Martha Blum, medical director, Infection Prevention, at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula tells KION in a written statement Wednesday.
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System holds the county’s remdesivir supply. A spokesperson tells KION Wednesday night that while the county is out of the drug right now, they are expecting another shipment from the state this week, and it could come as early as Thursday.
This news arrives as Monterey County has 36 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since the pandemic began, according to CDPH figures. However, the number could actually be higher. In responses to KION Wednesday, the total appears to be 39.
- CHOMP: Eight
- Natividad: 15
- SVMH: 15
- Mee Memorial: 1 (according to the state)
On June 26, there were only 17 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Monterey County. The number was as low as two on April 28th.
According to the California Department of Public Health’s county-by-county breakdown of remdesivir allocation, Monterey County received 132 doses of the drug in May and June, out of 4,287 total in the state. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a treatment course of remdesivir averages 6.25 vials.
On Monday, HHS reports they secured 500,000 treatment courses through September, which includes 100% of Gilead’s (who holds the drug’s patent) July projected production and 90 percent of their projected production in August and September.
Hospitals also look for other options with COVID-19 patients. Both CHOMP and Natividad say they have been using dexamethasone.
“Based on the currently available research and evolving treatment guidelines, low dose steroid therapy with dexamethasone is also a treatment being used for appropriately selected patients,” Dr. Blum writes.
“We provide our Covid-19 patients with all the best practiced therapies and medications including dexamethasone for appropriate patients,” writes Dr. Craig Walls, Chief Medical Officer at Natividad.
On June 12, SVMH reported they have had positive results with remdesivir and convalescent plasma, “a blood product processed by Vitalant… donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19, and it contains antibodies that can help others recover faster.”
CHOMP says the “investigational therapy” is available there for “appropriately selected patients.” “We are not aware of any current limitations or restrictions on the supply. We do suggest that people who have had COVID-19 and are recovered consider being convalescent plasma donors,” writes. Dr. Blum.
This is a developing story.