MSDH: available COVID-19 treatments are being underutilized in the state

Published 5:12 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

Treatment is available for those who get COVID-19, but treatments are being underutilized, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Friday during a press conference held by the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Dobbs said although the numbers of COVID cases are going down and there is a decline in hospitalizations, MSDH is still recording thousands of cases every day.

“And we will continue to see more illness and deaths,” he said.

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However, with a “new generation” of treatments, Dobbs said, outcomes for those who contract the virus could improve, “and we want people to know about these treatments and how to access them,” he said.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are two oral antiviral medications that have been successful for the Omicron variant, Dobbs reported.

“Paxlovid is a sequence of tablets you take to treat people within five days of illness,” he said.

Dobbs said this treatment is very effective, but it does have numerous drug reactions when taken with other medications. Molnupiravir is also an effective treatment, Dobbs said, but it is not as good as Paxlovid.

However, Molnupiravir has fewer drug interactions.

MSDH Chief Medical Officer Dan Edney, a Vicksburg physician, concurred with Dobbs on the effectiveness of both antiviral medications.

“They are very effective and help patients feel better quicker,” Edney said.

Currently, Mississippi has an adequate supply of both these medications.

“We have 2,000 treatment courses of Paxlovid and over 10,000 courses of Molnupiravir available in the state of Mississippi,” he said.

Monoclonal antibody treatments are also being used to treat those who test positive for the Omicron variant.

“As you know, the Omicron variant is not susceptible for the type of monoclonal antibodies used during the Delta surge,” Dobbs said.

But Sotrovimab is, he said. However, supplies of the medication are limited in Mississippi.

For people who are at high risk because of weakened immune systems, Evusheld, a preventive monoclonal antibody, is used, Dobbs said. This too is being underutilized.

“We have been allocated almost 4,000 doses and we have only used 135,” he said, adding, that MSDH is working hard to let providers know this (Evusheld) is available.”

All treatments, Dobbs said, are administered with medical supervision.

“We are not through the pandemic yet, Dobbs, said but we do have some tools in our toolbox. They are just being underutilized,” he said.

On the MSDH’s website, a Mississippi COVID-19 therapeutics locator has been set up to aid in finding a pharmacy in your community that can fill a prescription for oral antiviral medication.

Visit Treatment for COVID-19 Infection – Mississippi State Department of Health (ms.gov).

For locals, Kroger Pharmacy can dispense oral antiviral medication if it has been prescribed by a health care provider.

Both Dobbs and Edney stressed the importance of contacting your health care provider if you have symptoms or test positive for COVID.

“There are things that can be done that can give you optimal chance for optimal health,” Dobbs said.

And for those who have not yet been vaccinated, Edney said, “Get vaccinated, get boosted and stay safe.”

Vaccines are still the best protection from viruses, he said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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