People whose immune systems don’t work well because of disease or medications have lost their best defense against COVID-19.
Although the monoclonal antibody Evusheld was never widely used by the immunocompromised, it promised to provide six months of protection against infection.
Now, though, more than 90% of circulating variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are resistant to the drug. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration officially announced that Evusheld is no longer authorized to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S.
People who are immunocompromised, perhaps because of blood cancer treatment or an organ transplant, are unlikely to mount a strong response to a COVID-19 vaccine.
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How to avoid COVID-19 infection
Federal agencies recommend that these people stay up to date on vaccines, but there are additional measures they can take to avoid infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that people who are immunocompromised or who can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine:
- Have a plan for what to do if they or a family member becomes ill, such as how to isolate, how to cope with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test, how to ask for help with childcare, work and other responsibilities;
- Wear high-quality, well-fitting masks, usch as N95 or KN95 masks.
- Maintain a physical distance from other people indoors without sacrificing social activities that might support mental well being.
- Improve ventilation by opening windows and running fans
- Filter indoor air with an HVAC system or portable high-efficiency particulate air cleaner
- Spend more time outdoors
- Wash hands frequently
- Get tested as soon as symptoms appear. The government is offering four free tests per household this winter.
- Quickly contact a health care provider, health department, or community health
- center after a positive test to learn about treatment options, such as antivirals. Treatments are only effective if started within 5 days of symptom onset.
- CDC recommends that immunocompromised persons with COVID-19 isolate for at least 10 days and check with their health care provider before ending isolation.