CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s congressional delegates are requesting additional Regeneron monoclonal antibody doses as hospitals and other health care facilities remain under tremendous stress from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state last month made a formal request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for an increase to treat people in the early stages of the coronavirus, including 3,000 Regeneron doses for each week through Oct. 31 and 6,000 doses a week beginning Nov. 1. Federal health officials denied the request.

The legislators — which included Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., as well as Republican Reps. David McKinley and Carol Miller — stressed the need for this treatment option in a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra dated Tuesday.

“While West Virginia has seen a net increase in mAbs over the last few weeks, it has not met the increasing need in the state,” they said.

The legislators said using Bamlanivimab/etesevimab doses is a challenge because the treatment can only be administered by an intravenous needle into the vein, which some health care facilities cannot do.

Regeneron monoclonal antibody doses can be administered by an injection under the skin.

“Many rural locations cannot administer BAM/ETE, slowing overall administration of mAbs. This is an important distinction, as it allows REGN-CO to more easily reach our rural and at-risk populations,” the group said.

The officials noted local and state agencies have worked with public and private partners to develop a network for administering Regeneron monoclonal antibody doses.

“Just this week West Virginia has added over 40 new sites to administer mAb,” they said. “With an increased allocation of mAb treatment we are hopeful some of the strain will be lifted off of our already struggling healthcare system.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 890 West Virginians are hospitalized with the coronavirus. Nearly 82% of coronavirus patients are unvaccinated.