Gov. Ron DeSantis hopes more COVID-19 treatments, including Eli Lilly’s and GlaxoSmithKline’s antibody cocktails, will soon be readily available in Florida.
The Governor has spent more than a month in a hard push to promote Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment. Despite previously downplaying Eli Lilly’s version for not being as effective against the delta variant, DeSantis was more optimistic about the option on Tuesday as he spoke in St. Cloud.
Florida is looking into how it could make those options readily available. Monoclonal antibody therapy, as produced by Regeneron, is a therapeutic available when a person at high risk for severe infection tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to the virus.
“I think you’re going to see, hopefully, an expansion with some of these other monoclonals, which will be good and hopefully will prove to be as effective as Regeneron,” DeSantis said.
Florida chose Regeneron over other options, DeSantis has said, because the federal government has made it free for states and hospitals to draw down, because it can be administered with a shot, and because it provides better results than others against the delta variant, which was largely responsible for this summer’s record-breaking surge.
Eli Lilly’s version is available through the federal government again, and DeSantis said GlaxoSmithKline’s formula is on the market.
Each state-run monoclonal antibody treatment site can offer the therapy to more than 300 people daily. Wait lists at some sites are now days long despite the treatment being more effective the earlier someone receives it. Having other treatments would help increase supply even though they must be administered through an IV, which takes longer.
Critics have attacked DeSantis for not promoting vaccines as enthusiastically as he has promoted the Regeneron treatment during the surge and for taking campaign dollars from one of the company’s executives.
When asked by reporters about his stance on vaccines Tuesday, DeSantis called them “our top preventative measure” and, together with the antibody therapy, are “just different sides of the coin.” And he defended his decision to dedicate the last few weeks to opening Regeneron treatment sites across the state.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” DeSantis said. “We saw that people didn’t know about this. We saw that a lot of people in the medical community didn’t know about it or didn’t know it was available, so we felt the need to come in and do it.”
Other treatment options may also be available soon. COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer is developing a pill to treat symptoms at their onset. The pill entered later-stage clinical trials last week, and it may be ready for public use in a matter of months.
DeSantis pointed to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla to back up his stance on promoting treatments.
“Even Pfizer now has said … you know, the battle against COVID is not just vaccines. It does require treatment,” DeSantis said.
Earlier in the day in Lakeland, DeSantis took a jab at White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci as he has many times before. This time, he criticized the nation’s preeminent health expert for once saying COVID-19 surges would cease if 50% of the population was vaccinated. That milestone has passed, and surges continue.
That was more fodder for the Governor as he continued attacking vaccine mandates.
“If the idea is that having herd immunity, you force everyone to do this, and that will create herd immunity, that has not happened,” DeSantis said.