FORT DETRICK, Md. -- With COVID-19 still an ongoing threat around the globe, the need for new treatment options other than vaccines has risen dramatically in order to combat the continued surge in new virus cases and variants.
The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.
Roughly 5,500 doses of therapeutics have been shipped to approximately 200 different locations outside the United States since the start of 2022, according to Liz Andrews, deputy director of USAMMA’s Distribution Operations Center, or DOC.
The shipments are going to military hospitals, as well as operational units throughout the Department of Defense.
“This is a readiness mission,” said Andrews, who added that the DOC coordinates distribution efforts with Force Health Protection and the Defense Logistics Agency. “We’re taking care of all operational forces. It’s not just the fixed facilities.”
In addition to vaccine distribution, including for COVID-19, influenza, anthrax, smallpox and others, the DOC works alongside the Department of Health and Human Services and Defense Health Agency to send therapeutic products to global DOD customers.
“Items are in limited quantities throughout the country,” DOC Director Lt. Col. Todd Reeder said. “As with any limited supply, the demand is extremely high.”
Therapeutics include antiviral oral medications and single-dose intravenous infusions of monoclonal antibody treatments.
An antiviral works to block receptors so the virus cannot bind to and enter other healthy cells, thereby fighting off further viral infection.
A monoclonal antibody treatment works by sending antibodies to seek out and attach to the “spike” protein unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. This blocks its ability to spread to more healthy cells.
Early effective treatment of any disease can help avert progression to more serious illness, especially for patients with high risk factors, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The same is true about COVID-19, making it the DOC’s logistics mission even more crucial to helping people recover after contracting the virus and lessen the strain on hospitals.
“My team, as usual, has stepped up to absorb this mission without missing a beat,” Reeder said.
Andrews said this additional mission has underscored the DOC team’s flexibility and resilience during a time where the target keeps moving and minutes matter for those who fall ill with the virus.
“I have the highest respect for this team. They all put in the hours. They’re very flexible. If we need to stay late or come in the weekends, they do it,” she said. “They love their mission because they know they’re helping people.”