Rather than wait on a federal shipment, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is offering to mobilize trucks to retrieve the 30,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies destined for Florida.
In a Wednesday letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, DEM Director Kevin Guthrie offered to use pre-existing shipping contracts to retrieve the federally-provided drug.
The Florida-bound supply is currently awaiting shipment at a federal storage site.
“FDEM is thoroughly experienced in moving resources quickly and is prepared to assist the federal government in deploying this lifesaving treatment,” wrote Guthrie. “We have personnel on standby who can obtain the treatment within the week.”
Monoclonal antibodies, like those manufactured by Regeneron, are lab-created antibodies used to mitigate COVID-19 symptoms and complications after infection.
Florida was among the first states to emphasize the treatment. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled statewide, touting the drug and its results. The drug — with early treatment — proved effective.
In recent months, however, some states including Florida began criticizing President Joe Biden after his administration throttled the federal supply shipments.
Federal health officials paused deliveries after research suggested certain antibody therapies — Regeneron and Eli Lily — proved ineffective against the omicron variant.
Feds also slowed shipments of Sotrovimab — an antibody treatment with demonstrated success against omicron— as a way to stockpile resources ahead of a more deadly surge, according to The Washington Post.
Despite the political tensions, DEM spokesperson Samantha Bequer emphasized the offer to HHS was extended in “good faith.” The Biden administration reopened the pipeline this week.
“FDEM stands ready to assist our federal partners,” Guthrie added in the letter. “We believe in strong state and federal partnerships to ensure all available resources are being used respond to COVID-19.”
According to the letter, treatment sites will be ready to go within 24 to 48 hours of receipt. Potential site locations include Broward, Collier, Duval, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Seminole counties.
“Essentially – we are prepared to receive these additional doses immediately,” wrote Guthrie.
Tests do indeed suggest some monoclonal antibodies are less effective against the rapidly spreading, yet seemingly less potent, omicron variant. Proponents, however, note the antibodies are still useful against the lingering, more powerful delta variant.
It is unclear what types of monoclonal antibody treatments are included in the shipment.
News of the offer comes as Florida navigates a spike of cases. Nearly 2% of all Floridians have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.
Scientists, however, say many of the infections caused few or no symptoms — a factor that suggests case counts are no longer an inaccurate measure of virus’s impact.
A copy of the letter is featured below.