As the Biden administration moves to slash the supply of monoclonal antibody treatment available to Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis went on the offensive to promote the drug as an effective weapon against COVID-19.
At a press conference Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, DeSantis pointed out that more than 90,000 people have received monoclonal antibody, or mAb, treatments, and the state would soon pass 100,000.
That, he said, was due to his administration’s efforts to advocate its possibilities as a treatment – something no one, including the Biden administration, was doing until recently.
But that progress is threatened by the Biden administration’s new rule controlling the supply.
“We’ve been thrown a major curveball here,” DeSantis said of the plan.
But, “We’re in the fight making sure Florida is not short-changed on these monoclonals. That’s going to be front and center for us. … We’re going to fight like hell to make sure our folks get what they need.”
DeSantis said it was important that treatment of COVID is considered just as viable as preventing the virus.
“The bottom line is this: COVID is a treatable illness. And we have to never go back to the days where particularly high-risk people get infected and were told to just go home and hope they don’t get deathly ill,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis said early post-infection treatment is a critical part of fighting COVID, and accordingly mAb “has saved lives here in the state of Florida.”
Under the update from Washington, Florida will go from 72,000 doses a week to about 31,000.
“We are very, very concerned with the Biden administration and the HHS’s [Health and Human Services Department] recent, abrupt and sudden announcement that they are going to dramatically cut the number of monoclonal antibodies that are going to be sent to the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
The governor noted that on Sept. 9, Biden himself said the supply would increase by 50 percent this month.
Now, DeSantis said, “There’s going to be a huge disruption and patients are going to suffer.”
DeSantis’ office said beyond no warning about the cut, there has been even less explanation for it. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra recently said the feds were reviewing the distribution plan to ensure an “equitable” rollout across the nation.
The Washington Post reported this week that 70 percent of mAb doses were being shipped to seven southern states, including Florida.
DeSantis on Thursday said that consumption was due in part because the virus has rebounded in the South in summer months. That will shift northward as the weather cools, he predicted.
Yet Florida also used more mAb because his administration made it a priority, the governor said, something Washington did not do this year.
DeSantis said his administration recognized not only a need for the drugs as the virus spread, but also a necessity to educate both the citizens and healthcare providers about its potential and availability.
“We acted. We were able to raise awareness. And were able to expand access for people, which was very important. That should be celebrated,” said DeSantis.
“If we had sat on our hands, just think of all the 90,000-plus people that would not have gotten this treatment. Many thousands would have ended up in the hospital, and, of course, some of them would have ended up dying.”
“By focusing on monoclonals, we were filling a gap as big as the Grand Canyon because the federal government was not promoting this at all,” said DeSantis, adding that the Biden administration itself acknowledged that it was underutilized.
“If the federal government from the beginning had said get vaccinated, and if you get infected, here is a great thing, I think we could have averted in this country a lot of people going to the hospital, and I think it would have saved a lot of lives,” the governor maintained.
DeSantis also pointed out that access to mAb is critical despite the prevalence of the vaccines.
Florida has a higher vaccination rate than 30 other states, the governor said.
But he noted that more than 50 percent of people who sought mAb treatment at a handful of the state’s South Florida sites were vaccinated.
- Without Warning, Biden Admin Cuts Supply Of Life-Saving COVID Treatment By Half
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