Virus mutations limit antibody treatments

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

COVID-19 cases fluctuated slightly but remained relatively low this week across the Piedmont Health District.

According to the latest data obtained from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), from the period of Sunday, April 3, to Saturday, April 9, Prince Edward County saw 12 new reported cases of COVID-19. Buckingham reported two new cases in this time, and Cumberland saw zero new cases. Charlotte observed five new COVID-19 cases in this period, and Lunenburg saw three new cases.

While hospitalizations remained stable this week, COVID-related deaths dropped. According to VDH, the latest data shows Prince Edward county saw 11 new virus-related hospitalizations from Friday, April 1, to the following Friday, April 8. Buckingham reported four hospitalizations, and Cumberland saw zero new hospitalizations. Charlotte saw five hospitalized COVID-19 patients and Lunenburg saw three. Buckingham reported one new COVID-related death this week, while the counties of Prince Edward, Cumberland, Charlotte and Lunenburg saw no new reported coronavirus deaths.

Cases appear to be rising as a whole in Virginia this week, with the commonwealth observing 1,285 newly reported COVID-19 cases Friday, April 8. That’s compared to 859 cases reported the previous Friday. The state’s seven-day moving average also increased in this timeframe from 859 to 871.

Centra Health enjoyed another lowered COVID patient census this week. As of April 8, the hospital system was reporting seven total coronavirus patients across its Lynchburg, Bedford and Southside hospitals. Centra reported no COVID patients in its ICU as of Monday.

Longwood University was reporting zero new COVID-19 cases in its campus community as of its last dashboard update Sunday, April 10. Hampden-Sydney College was reporting three active cases of the virus with zero individuals quarantining as of Monday, April 4.

As of data obtained Monday, April 11, the counties of Prince Edward, Buckingham, Cumberland, Charlotte and Lunenburg all remained categorized as “low” on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels tool this week.

The tool helps officials determine which counties are safe to go mask-free. While people can choose to mask at any time, residents in a low-ranking county are not specifically recommended to wear face masks. The CDC recommends everyone, no matter their county’s ranking, stay up to date with vaccinations and get tested if presenting symptoms of the virus.

Though coronavirus cases have been rather quiet across the U.S. in recent weeks, national health experts are watching carefully to anticipate the next move of the omicron BA.2 subvariant. As of March 2, the CDC anticipates BA.2 makes up approximately 72.2% of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Though BA.2 subvariant recently led to a surge in coronavirus cases across Europe, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” that while the subvariant may lead to an uptick in cases in the U.S., a full blown surge in cases is not anticipated.

That being said, mutations of the virus have now limited the use of monoclonal antibody treatments developed for COVID-19. On Monday, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond noted three of the four available monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID can no longer be used due to lack of efficacy as the virus mutates.

Almond said we currently have only one remaining effective monoclonal antibody treatment, bebtelovimab. She highlighted the area currently has one healthcare practitioner administering monoclonal antibody treatments – Crewe Medical under Dr. Clay Hall. Hall has been working closely with VDH therapeutics physician Dr. Brooke Rossheim and is also actively providing Evusheld, a preventative, long-acting antibody combination therapy for those who are immunocompromised.

On Monday, Almond also encouraged residents to celebrate safely and responsibly during the coming holidays of spring.

“We are now in the spring season of gathering together — for the religious holidays of Easter, Passover and Ramadan; family reunions, for some of us after many months or even longer apart; and spring festivals in every community. We should celebrate. We should come together. But we should do so, as always, responsibly, and with an awareness of those with whom we gather,” Almond said.

“If you have any sniffles or even just extreme fatigue, go ahead and take a COVID-19 test. They are now readily available in our libraries and pharmacies and (grocery stores). If the space is tight or there are those who are older or potentially more vulnerable, throw open the windows and doors to welcome a spring breeze. And keeping high quality masks available for gatherings of larger, multigenerational groups just coming together after two years apart provides a comfortable, safe setting for all.

“Let us join together. Let us think of each other. Let us watch the miracle of spring unfold yet again and know that there are cycles to our journey.”

Vaccination rates in each county of the health district, as of Monday, were as follows:

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 45.4%, population with booster shot: 23.5%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 55.9%, population with booster shot: 28.9%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 52%, population with booster shot: 24.8%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 54.8%, population with booster shot: 25.8%

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 57.3%, population with booster shot: 29%

VDH MOBILE

VACCINATION EVENTS

Free and open to the public. Walk-ins welcome.

May pre-register at vase.vdh.virginia.gov

Amelia Co. Volunteer Fire Dept – Station One

Wednesday, April 13 – 3 – 6:30 p.m.

8950 Otterburn Road, Amelia CH

Chase the Ambulance 5K in Farmville

Saturday, April 16 – 8 – 11:30 a.m.

311 North Main St., Farmville

Crossroads Town House

Wednesday, April 20 – 9 – 11 a.m.

714 East 2nd St., Farmville

Crossroads Charlotte County

Wednesday, April 20 – 3 6:30 p.m.

410 Thomas Jefferson Hwy, Charlotte CH

Peoples Community Center – Food Distribution

Thursday, April 21 – 9 – 11 a.m.

1021 Tidewater Ave, Victoria, VA

Crystal Cathedral – Food Distribution

Friday, April 22 – 10 – 11:30 a.m.

16764 Oak St, Dillwyn, VA 23936

Cumberland Patriot Day Festival

Saturday, April 23 – noon – 4 p.m.

Cumberland Courthouse, VA

Piedmont Senior Resources

Friday, April 29 – 2 – 6:30 p.m.

1413 S Main St, Farmville, VA

Hanes Chapel United Methodist Church

Saturday, April 30 – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

1171 Copper Mine Road, Dillwyn, VA