Nursing homes and their residents were on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.
But despite how vulnerable nursing home residents are to severe illness and death from the disease, most of them never received lifesaving drugs — including Paxlovid, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May this year, after more than a year of widespread use under the Emergency Use Authorization.
Less than 18% of nursing home residents suffering from COVID-19 infection received antiviral or monoclonal antibody drugs to fight the deadly disease.
The authors of the new study called the low use of COVID-19 drugs “particularly alarming,” according to a press release.
The researchers examined records from May 2021 to December 2022, during which there were 763,340 COVID-19 cases in 15,092 nursing homes across the US.
But only 136,066 of those sick elderly people, or 17.8%, were treated with the potentially lifesaving drugs.
Perhaps more shocking is the fact that by the end of 2022, more than 40% of nursing homes had never used any of the available antiviral treatments.
For-profit nursing homes “with higher shares of Medicaid and non-white residents were less likely to use potentially life-saving antivirals,” the research revealed, “as were … lower quality facilities.”
These grim facts were “likely contributing to disparities in COVID hospitalizations and deaths.”
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research was led by experts from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Harvard University.
Nursing home residents — especially those in New York state — fared poorly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In early 2020, during the administration of then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York Department of Health issued a directive that required nursing homes to readmit residents who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The now-infamous directive forced sickened seniors into facilities housing those most vulnerable to COVID-19, which increased the death toll among the residents, according to a New York State Bar Association report.
In May of this year, US House members probing the COVID-19 pandemic fired off a letter to Cuomo demanding he testify about why he sent coronavirus patients to nursing homes during the height of the outbreak.