Editor's note: The above video on BA.2 becoming the dominant variant in Washington originally aired March 30, 2022.
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A drug that could potentially prevent immunocompromised people from developing COVID-19 is now available in the state of Washington, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Those 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised or have had a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for the treatment. The drug is administered through two consecutive injections.
Evusheld cannot be used as a COVID-19 treatment and is not recommended for people who have been exposed to COVID-19, according to the FDA's Emergency Use Authorization.
Evusheld is not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are eligible and don't experience severe adverse reactions to the shot, according to the DOH. Those who are eligible for the drug must wait until two weeks after they complete their vaccination series to get their first injection.
Evusheld is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, tixagevimab and cilgavimab, that prevent the spike protein of the virus from attaching to human cells, according to the FDA.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial those who were administered the drug saw a 77% decrease in the risk of developing COVID-19, according to the FDA’s emergency use authorization.
Trial participants were aged 60 or older with a co-morbidity or an increased risk of developing COVID-19 due to their occupation or living situation. Follow-up analyses showed that the effects of the drug lasted for six months.
The drug manufacturer, AstraZeneca, reported Evusheld was also effective against the Omicron variant, however, some studies showed the drug was less effective against Omicron than other variants, according to the DOH.
The drug was first authorized for emergency use in December of 2021, however, the FDA updated the recommended dosage for the treatment on Feb. 24 based on the Omicron BA.1 and BA.1.1 subvariants. Data showed that a higher dose was more effective in protecting against BA.1 and BA.1.1 than the original recommended dose.
Protection against infection from the BA.1 and BA.1.1 variants may not last six months, according to the FDA. However, Evusheld does appear to have a “greater neutralizing effect” against BA.2, which has become the dominant strain in Washington state.
The FDA declined to recommend a timeline for getting an additional dose of Evusheld because “it is unclear which SARS-CoV-2 variant or Omicron subvariant will become dominant in the United States over the next few months.”
The agency said updates on redosing recommendations will be provided soon when more data is available.
People who are interested in Evusheld should talk to their doctor to determine if they’re eligible. If so, they can work with their providers to find a facility where they can receive the treatment.