ORLANDO, Fla. — A new battle is emerging between Tallahassee and Washington: the supply of monoclonal antibody treatments, which have been billed as a lifesaver for people who contract the coronavirus.
Thanks to a sustained, though decreasing surge in Florida and rising case levels in northern states, the Biden administration announced supplies of the treatment would be regulated by the federal government beginning next week to keep states from competing against one another.
“Just seven states are making up 70% of the orders, our supply is not unlimited, and we believe it should be equitable across states across the country,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters Thursday.
Florida administers more doses per week than any other state. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the change would lead to shipments being cut by more than half, from 70,000 doses per week to 30,000, as extra doses are directed to other states.
Each monoclonal antibody treatment requires four shots: one to each arm and two to the stomach. The treatments are used after someone gets sick, but early in the progression of the disease. It takes roughly two hours to treat someone from start to finish, including monitoring time.
“There’s going to be a huge disruption and patients are going to suffer as a result of this,” DeSantis said, adding that thousands of Floridians have had their lives saved by the treatments.
DeSantis said 90,000 people had received the treatments since they were introduced and that he was proud Florida was the national leader in the effort. He claimed most people who used the therapy were already vaccinated.
“We’re proud to have led on that. We think it’s made a difference,” he said. “We think it’ll make a difference in these other states, but man, to just kind of pull the rug out from anyone a week after the President himself said they were going to be increasing the distributions by 50%... it’s very, very problematic.”
He followed by saying the state would do everything in its power to make sure no one went without.
During their weekly community update, Brevard County emergency managers said they had no concerns about the cuts for now.
“We work very closely with the state of Florida and our federal friends to make sure we have enough to meet the demand here,” Emergency Manager John Scott reported.
County and federal officials said the best solution was for people to get vaccinated.
“Monoclonal antibodies are lifesaving therapies that are used after infection to prevent more severe outcomes,” Psaki said. “So, clearly, the way to protect people and save more lives is to get them vaccinated so that they don’t get COVID to begin with.”