FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the federal government Monday to allow states to directly purchase monoclonal antibody treatments from companies, saying the state is ready to open new monoclonal antibody treatment sites but is waiting on treatments from the U.S. government.
The governor said during a news conference that additional sites would open in South and Central Florida when the state receives more treatments, which he said could be between 30,000-40,000 additional doses.
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“We have the ability and we will immediately turn on additional sites as soon as the federal government gives us a supply ... And we also have the capacity to increase the existing footprint, which we do have a good existing footprint,” DeSantis said. ”And we have the ability to add five to 10 more sites as the demand may be but that is all contingent on the federal government sending the doses that we need.”
According to Central Florida doctors, there is a shortage of monoclonal antibodies around the state, causing some treatment centers to halt appointments until further notice.
Just before the Christmas holiday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would pause its distribution of some treatments, including Regeneron, citing resistance to the omicron variant of COVID-19.
“The laboratory evidence was indicating that the affinity of the antibodies, such as the Regeneron antibodies for the omicron variant, were diminished. And, you know, so it seems that it’s likely to not have the same effectiveness as it did previously,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said. “But that doesn’t, that’s not the same thing as concluding that the Regeneron antibodies, monoclonal antibodies, will not work in a patient with omicron.”
DeSantis said there is no need for these treatments to be sitting on shelves and asked the government “to stop preventing the distribution of these treatments.”
“We’re past the point now where we’re able to get it directly from any of these companies that our government has cornered the entire market,” DeSantis said.
The event comes days after the Florida Department of Health reported nearly 300,000 new cases that occurred between Dec. 24-30, an average of 42,636 new infections per day. The surge in cases is being fueled by the omicron variant of COVID-19, which is more contagious than the previously dominant delta strain.