Breaking News
More () »

Which treatments are effective against the Omicron variant?

With the Omicron variant accounting for more than 70% of cases in the U.S., experts are trying to find an effective treatment.

TAMPA, Fla. — As the Omicron variant rapidly spreads throughout the holidays, scientists and the Biden administration are working to find treatments that are effective against it. 

Last week, Regeneron, a prominent manufacturer of monoclonal antibodies, said their antibodies "have diminished potency against Omicron." The antibodies are still effective against the Delta variant. 

However, between Dec. 12 and 18, the CDC reports Omicron cases account for more than 70 percent of all cases in the U.S. In the week prior, Omicron only accounted for 12 percent of all cases, with Delta being the dominant variant. 

There is one treatment, though, that has been proven to be effective against Omicron. Sotrovimab, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, retains efficacy against the Omicron spike protein, GSK said in a statement

"Sotrovimab is the first monoclonal antibody to report preclinical data demonstrating activity against all COVID-19 variants of concern and interest to date, including Omicron, as well as the still prevalent and highly contagious Delta variant," CEO of Vir, George Scangos, said. 

While this sounds like good news, the treatment has been in short supply as the demand increases. In November, GSK said the U.S. government contracted approximately $1 billion worth of sotrovimab. The New York Times adds the Biden administration is planning to have more doses next year. 

While hospitals wait for more shipments of sotrovimab, Pfizer is now shipping its first COVID oral antiviral treatment, Paxlovid

The treatment does not have full approval but did receive authorization for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration. A similar pill from Merck is also expected to soon receive authorization. 

However, Pfizer's pill comes with its own challenges. Patients will need to test positive for COVID-19 to get a prescription. Additionally, Paxlovid has only proven effective if given within five days of symptoms appearing.

It is, though, the preferred option because of its mild side effects and high efficacy. Pfizer says there is an 89 percent reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among patients most likely to get severe disease. 

The U.S. will pay about $500 for each course of Pfizer's treatment, which consists of three pills taken twice a day for five days. Two of the pills are Paxlovid and the third is a different antiviral that helps boost levels of the main drug in the body.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Before You Leave, Check This Out