Alongside a trio of doctors, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday promoted the use of monoclonal antibodies as an effective treatment against COVID-19.
Speaking at Tampa General Hospital, DeSantis touted the treatment as a proven means to reduce the perils of COVID-19 to a “flu-level risk.”
Dr. Kami Kim is the director of Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida. The treatment, she explained, involves injecting laboratory-created antibodies into an infected patient’s system.
Tampa General Hospital was among the first in the state to deploy the treatment last year. Since then, more than 1,600 have been treated with the antibodies.
Kim said new data suggests monoclonal antibodies may also prevent COVID-19 infection in people who may have been exposed to the virus. The treatment, she added, can essentially “neutralize the virus.”
“It’s particularly useful for people who need a little help with their immune system,” Kim said, later adding, “but now what we found with over six months of experience is these treatments are very effective in pretty much everybody.”
The Governor’s press conference comes as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.
On Wednesday, the state reported 16,935 new cases and 140 COVID-19 related deaths.
“This is our COVID season,” DeSantis said of the summer surge. “We thought we would see an increase. I don’t know that we thought we would necessarily see this many positive tests and some of the hospital admissions.”
Despite the uptick, Tampa General CEO John Couris said his hospital remains safe and open to the public.
“Please, if you’re listening to this, do not delay care,” Couris said repeatedly.
Meanwhile, Dr. Charlie Lockwood of Tampa General Hospital maintained that vaccinations remain the best method of protection against COVID-19.
Lockwood is the dean of the Masonic College of Medicine at USF Health.
Cases among the vaccinated, he explained, are primarily among elderly patients and those with comorbidities.
“f you’ve been vaccinated, this COVID surge — this fourth surge — is the equivalent of an influenza season,” Lockwood said. “So that’s why you need to be vaccinated.”
Nearly 70% of Floridians have received at least one vaccine dose as of Thursday, according to the New York Times.