The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged people with weakened immune systems to take extra precautions to avoid Covid after the dominant omicron subvariants knocked out a key antibody treatment.
Those precautions include wearing a quality mask and social distancing when it’s not possible to avoid crowded indoor spaces, according to the CDC.
The guidance comes after the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday withdrew its approval of Evusheld, a combined antibody injection that people with weak immune systems took as an extra layer of protection to prevent Covid infection.
The FDA withdrew Evusheld because it is not active against 95% of the Omicron subvariants circulating in the US. These include the XBB subvariants, which now cause 64% of new cases, as well as the BQ family, which is responsible for 31% of reported infections.
Although most Americans have largely returned to normal life after the Covid pandemic has abated, those with weakened immune systems remain at higher risk of serious illness because their immune response to the vaccines is not as strong.
Still, it’s important for people with weakened immune systems to stay up to date on their Covid vaccines by getting the Omicron booster because the vaccinations can reduce the risk of serious illness, according to the CDC.
If you have a weak immune system and develop Covid symptoms, the CDC says you should get tested as soon as possible and be treated with an antiviral within five to seven days.
Available antivirals include paxlovid, remdesivir, or molnupiravir, but patients should speak to their doctor to find out which treatment is best. Some people cannot take Paxlovid because it interacts with other medicines they are taking.
People with weakened immune systems include cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant patients taking medication for their transplant, people with advanced HIV infection, and those born with immunodeficiency.
About 7 million adults in the US have a disease, such as cancer, that affects their immune system, according to the CDC.