Gov. DeSantis again bashes federal monoclonal squeeze, says tourists may be ‘bringing different delta’

DeSantis
'Who’s to say that they’re not also bringing different delta? That could absolutely be the case.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his condemnation of President Joe Biden’s administration Wednesday for pinching the federal supply of two monoclonal antibody therapies, which has led to canceled treatment appointments for thousands of Floridians.

In a press conference at Miami Dade College’s North Campus, DeSantis called the move “a rash decision” not backed by clinical data and a dangerous choice because cases of the COVID-19 delta variant haven’t fully disappeared.

“You don’t know when somebody comes in, necessarily, whether they have the omicron infection or the delta infection, and we know definitively this stuff is great against the delta variant,” he said. “So, why would you take that out of play for somebody?”

As of Jan. 15, the omicron variant accounted for more than 99% of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

That might not be the case in Florida, DeSantis said, noting the state’s high tourism levels.

“Maybe there’s not as much delta in our native communities who are Florida residents, but we have so many people cycling in and out,” he said. “Who’s to say that they’re not also bringing different delta? That could absolutely be the case.”

On Monday, the FDA barred doctors and other health care providers from administering monoclonal antibody therapies created by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, a major part of DeSantis’ effort to combat serious illness from the virus that has run rampant across Florida.

The FDA, as well as multiple studies and the drug companies themselves, say REGEN-COV and bamlanivimab “are highly unlikely to be active against the omicron variant” and “not medically appropriate” to use at this time.

DeSantis dismissed the studies as insufficient, noting they had been conducted using cells and not on humans.

“It has not been proven that this does not work against omicron,” he said. “That’s based on that one lab study. Time will tell. If you do clinical trials, who knows how it will end up working out? I don’t know. I wish I did. But when that is being said like that, that is not accurate, and that is misleading people.”

Florida as recently as last week opened additional monoclonal antibody treatment sites after receiving shipments of the drug. The Florida Department of Health website lists 46 such locations.

But on Tuesday, after the federal government said it would not send out any further monoclonal antibody therapies made by the two companies, Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said treatment sites would be “closed until further notice.”

Forcing closures of treatment locations removes from health professionals’ hands a powerful tool to treat patients, said Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

“It’s a very well-tolerated, scientifically proven treatment against the virus, and what’s important (is that) it’s safe,” he said. “There’s very few side effects. Just about every person who meets emergency use authorization is a candidate for that. And what’s nice is that we’re seeing in the pipeline other various treatments that are coming through, but they have various problems with them.”

Without human testing, he said, the federal government is really only guessing as to whether the two monoclonal antibody therapies are effective.

“When a medication is approved to be used on humans, they might start off on cells to make a theory on whether it will work on humans,” he said. “We’ve got two pieces of conflicting data. We have this study on cells that suggests maybe it might be less effective on omicron, these particular monoclonals, but then we have real-world experience in humans, where we see excellent outcomes. And those two pieces of data conflict.”

DeSantis and Scheppke were joined by Dr. David Farcy, chair of the Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine; Dr. Dwight Reynolds, medical director and owner of Coral Springs-based Centers for Health Promotion; South Florida Realtor Scott Fortney, who caught the virus and recovered using monoclonal antibodies; and Nancy Schlotter and Frank Schlotter, a married couple participating remotely whose treatment appointments were canceled Tuesday.

Fortney said he became symptomatic for the virus a week and a half ago.

But after receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, he said, he felt far better but was “still a little tired.”

“And I will say I kind of have a control group I can share with you, because the person that I live with, she got COVID as well, elected not to have the monoclonal antibody treatments,” he said. “She tested positive the day following (and) still feels terrible.”

There are other COVID-19 therapies Florida can use that continue to have FDA approval and which scientists say work against the omicron variant, including Paxlovid, remdesivir, and sotrovimab, which is now the most recommended antibody treatment.

Florida’s supply of sotrovimab, however, isn’t “anywhere near enough,” said DeSantis, who bashed drug manufacturer Merck’s antiviral pill, molnupiravir, which the FDA authorized last month for use against COVID-19.

“Honestly, you look at that data — yikes,” he said, possibly referring to safety concerns raised recently in India and findings that the pill only reduces the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by 30%. “And yet that is the one they’re pushing.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


5 comments

  • Stephen P Johnson

    January 27, 2022 at 11:24 am

    DeSanits is also attempting an authoritarian takeover of Florida politics. DeSanis is trying to take control of all local politics also. Local reps cannot put forward any local regs unless it goes through him. Local governments cannot give any raises or benefit increases unless it goes through him. He is creating an authoritarian state government. So much for the party of freedumb.

  • DIANNA DAVIS

    January 27, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    VD VENOM Disease
    Bites of insects and animals
    VD venerial disease name change 1970 aids hepatitis HIV epidemic Cured Penicillin 1950
    1970 Anti Virals
    FD
    Ferot Disease
    VENOMOUS BITES vicious animals sold as pets outlawed all states everywhere year 2000
    Squirrel rats rabbits iguanas alligator reptiles weasel Ferrets ( squirrel rodents rabbits )
    The bite of those animals cauzes
    Neurological Brain Changes causing the infected to think that humans are MAGGOTS to be fed to animals
    Ferot Faggots
    FERRET Farmers

    The Laundry Family are guilty of Criminal trafficking
    Anyone selling Lethal deadly animals as pets guilty of
    Criminal Trafficking.
    Gabriel dead in ARIZONA would be alive if she knew that the Laundry Family guilty of criminal trafficking.

  • Tom

    January 27, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Total lies, deceit and falsehoods Stephen P Johnson. Lies!

    • Ocean Joe

      January 29, 2022 at 4:39 pm

      Tommy Boy, hope you are keeping warm! Listen, since you love all things Desantis, I thought you would enjoy this editorial from the Sarasota Herald Tribune on our governor.
      https://www.yahoo.com/news/desantis-learn-lessons-antibody-debacle-143747135.html
      It’s one of the best descriptions of what our governor has really been about over the course of our covid experience.

  • Dan

    January 28, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    One of the owners of Regeneron is one of Round Ronnie’s top donors. And you wonder why he’s spending millions of florida tax dollars buying a treatment that Regeneron itself says doesn’t work? There’s your answer. This guy has turned Florida into a pay-to-play state. You can do or say anything you want as long as you can afford to pay off the governor.

Comments are closed.


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