Minnesota removes race as a factor for COVID treatment eligibility after pressure

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Minnesota removed race as a preferential factor regarding which COVID-19 patients will receive monoclonal antibody treatment last week.

Following controversy, rationing guidance that was updated last Wednesday offers priority for such infusions to people who are immunocompromised or pregnant but did away with a scoring system that took race into account, according to the Star Tribune.

UTAH, MINNESOTA FACE LEGAL THREATS FOR USING RACE TO DETERMINE COVID TREATMENT ELIGIBILITY

The new move came the same day that health departments in Utah and Minnesota faced potential lawsuits after issuing guidance using race and ethnicity as factors in prioritizing distribution of coronavirus treatments, as first reported by Fox News.

Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) 

Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) 

Letters sent last Wednesday by America First Legal (AFL) alleged that both states violated federal law through “blatant discrimination.”

The Minnesota Department of Health did not readily explain its change in policy, according to the Tribune, but noted that its policies are constantly reviewed to ensure “that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need.”

SEN. MARCO RUBIO DEMANDS FDA CHANGE GUIDANCE PRIORITIZING RACE IN ADMINISTERING COVID DRUGS

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter to the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding that the agency immediately update its guidance so that patients seeking monoclonal antibody treatments will be prioritized based on their medical history and not their race or ethnicity.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION GUIDANCE PRIORITIZES RACE IN ADMINISTERING COVID DRUGS

Rubio’s letter came in response to a fact sheet issued by the FDA regarding the approved emergency use authorization of sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody proven to be effective against the omicron variant. The authorization extended only to patients considered “high risk.”

Graham Roark, 8, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years from Lurie Children's hospital registered nurse Virginia Scheffler at the hospital Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Graham Roark, 8, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years from Lurie Children’s hospital registered nurse Virginia Scheffler at the hospital Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

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The guidance, which was updated in December, says “medical conditions or factors” such as “race or ethnicity” have the potential to “place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19,” adding that the “authorization of sotrovimab under the EUA is not limited to” other factors outlined by the agency.

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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