TAMPA, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said a monoclonal antibody treatment that’s yielded success “even stronger than Regeneron” is coming to Florida as the federal government cuts the supply of the other COVID-19 treatment.
DeSantis made the announcement Thursday at the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.
The governor said he’s secured doses of Sotrovimab, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. as the state faces a decline in its Regeneron supply, the brand of monoclonal antibodies the state has been relying on to operate its state-run treatment centers.
DeSantis said he initially thought the Biden administration would be supplying additional infusions.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday reported on its website that the agency has “transitioned from a direct ordering process to a state/territory-coordinated distribution system,” saying that the change will give “health departments maximum flexibility to get these critical drugs where they are needed most.”
“Here we thought, ‘Man, what Florida is doing, that’s going to be happening all over the country,’ and we’re going to continue with what we’re doing. Instead of increasing by 50%, HHS seized control of the Regeneron nationwide, decided that it would dictate how many doses would be available statewide -- not just for state sites but including the hospitals -- and so they had a dramatic reduction in the amount of Regeneron and even they’re reducing it even further for this upcoming week,” DeSantis said.
According to DeSantis, the most recent shipment that Florida is scheduled to receive is a little less than 18,000 doses of Regeneron.
“Just a few weeks ago, we were doing well over 30,000 doses just in our sites. That doesn’t even include any of the hospitals. So not only have they cut dramatically from what we were using, they’re now saying, this is also what the hospitals get as well,” he said.
The governor said the reduction in Regeneron treatments in Florida could mean having to turn away someone with a severe COVID-19 case in the future and presents the threat of having to close the monoclonal antibody sites that have been lifesaving for some in recent weeks.
DeSantis said he will leave “no stone unturned” in the fight to secure additional treatments.
“Cutting the medication to Florida, and other states is wrong. It’s not consistent with the promise that was made just a couple of weeks ago, and we are going to continue to fight against that,” DeSantis said. “At the same time, as governor have a responsibility to do, everything I can to provide help for folks who need it.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki previously said that the federal government’s distribution plan for monoclonal antibodies is aimed at achieving “equity” among states receiving them.
“Just seven states are making up 70 percent of the orders. Our supply is not unlimited and we believe it should be equitable across states,” Psaki said during a press briefing. “I think our role as the government overseeing the entire country is to be equitable in how we distribute. We’re not going to give a greater percentage to Florida over Oklahoma.”
In the meantime, the governor said the shipment of Sotrovimab Florida has secured will be used to bridge some of the gaps created by the Regeneron cuts.
The governor said to expect further announcements with details on how the new treatments will be deployed.