As Omicron Peaks, UPMC Leaders Reinforce Vigilance and Share Information About Preventive Medication

By: Harry "Quincy" Nolan

Today, UPMC officials gave an update on the Omicron spike and provided additional information on Evusheld, a medication that prevents COVID-19 and is offered to patients with immune-compromising conditions.  

In the past week, the health system has seen a decrease in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.  

Despite the decrease, UPMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Donald Yealy warns, “The virus and its ability to harm remain here today.”  

Press Conference Coronavirus 013122

Yealy said there is reason for optimism, but now is not the time to let up. Masking and vaccination against COVID-19 remain the most effective ways to protect people from serious illness. Even though there has been a decrease, hospitalizations are still higher than previously in the pandemic, Yealy noted, and Omicron remains a greater risk for the unvaccinated and immunocompromised.   

UPMC’s effort to administer AstraZeneca’s Evusheld effectively and equitably is underway, and immunocompromised members of the community have been receiving the drug over the past month.  

“This is two monoclonal antibodies that we give before someone is infected with COVID-19 and lasts in their bodies for months, ready to stop the virus,” said Dr. Stanley Marks, chairman of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “It is given through intramuscular injection, like a vaccine. And, like a vaccine, it protects you from serious illness.”  

Marks elaborated that Evusheld isn’t a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination and everyone who is eligible should be vaccinated.  

Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality and operational excellence officer, provided an update on what patients can expect when receiving a call from UPMC about Evusheld, first through an automated message and then by a scheduler.  

“When you get the call, if you aren’t ready, please talk to your doctor,” Minnier said. “They can refer you and you can still have access to this critical medication.” 

UPMC offers Evusheld in Pittsburgh, Erie, Williamsport, Harrisburg, Lititz, York, Mechanicsburg, Altoona and Chautauqua.   

To read more about Evusheld click here.