OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Record-high levels of the Omicron COVID-19 variant have been discovered in Oklahoma City’s wastewater, while the state reports a crucial shortage of the drug that can help save lives.
“Our slogan is, ‘Poop doesn’t lie,’” said Jason Vogel, the director of the Oklahoma Water Survey. “We’ve seen the proportion of Omicron continue to increase.”
Wastewater researchers said Oklahoma City is outpacing Tulsa for Omicron found in wastewater samples.
“The last sample that we’ve taken, it’s up to 60 percent,” Vogel said.
The director said that evidence is crucial for hospitals planning to take care of COVID-19 patients.
“We’re able to predict the cases about seven days out,” he said. “We’ve actually informed the hospitals around the OKC metro about these results.”
Hospitals are using monoclonal antibody treatments as a way to lessen symptoms for high-risk COVID-19 patients.
“They’re kind of manufactured in a lab,” said Dr. David Chansolme, with INTEGRIS. “It’s mimicking the body’s antibody production system.”
However, the problem is there’s a nationwide shortage of the medicine.
“But as it stands now, the current supply in the state, along with expected deliveries from the next cycle, allocations are anticipated to be depleted in a month,” said State Commissioner of Health Keith Reed during a press event Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday, Oklahoma State Department of Health officials said Oklahoma is set to receive 1,000 doses each of two treatments. However, the doses are for patients suffering from the Delta variant and it’s not as effective against Omicron.
“There’s not enough of the right monoclonal antibody,” said Dr. Chansolme.
The doctor said the treatment to help with Omicron, Sotrovimab, is still in short supply.
“[The developer] just didn’t make enough of it, so they’re ramping up production of it because that’s the only one that really has good neutralization activity against Omicron,” the doctor said.
“Unfortunately, as things tend to work in this pandemic, it is the one we have the least amount of supply on,” said Reed. “It’s a very scarce resource.”
In the meantime, both Reed and Chansolme said the best way to avoid even needing treatment is in stock.
“We’ve got plenty of vaccines! Go get vaccinated! Go get boosted! Five years old and up!” said the doctor.
The State Health Department added it will keep asking the federal government for more COVID-related treatment until it has a sufficient supply.