President Joe Biden’s administration may reportedly implement a new policy to limit the number of antibody treatments shipped to some states with high demands for it, possibly curtailing the medicine for states with Republican governors, Politico reports.
According to Politico, the Biden administration is “imposing new limits on states’ ability to access to Covid-19 antibody treatments amid rising demand from GOP governors who have relied on the drug as a primary weapon against the virus.”:
Federal health officials plan to allocate specific amounts to each state under the new approach, in an effort to more evenly distribute the 150,000 doses that the government makes available each week.
The approach is likely to cut into shipments to GOP-led states in the Southeast that have made the pricey antibody drug a central part of their pandemic strategy, while simultaneously spurning mask mandates and other restrictions. That threatens to heighten tensions between the Biden administration and governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who have emerged as vocal opponents of the federal Covid-19 response.
The new policy follows Biden announcing his federal policy last week that will have the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate that private companies with 100 or more employees implement vaccine mandates or require negative tests. During his speech, the president singled out GOP governors that oppose his policies, vowing to “get them out of the way.”
“Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools,” Biden said.
“If they’ll not help, if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” he added.
Per Politico, the Biden administration had been shipping antibody treatments to states on an “as-needed basis” until demands from seven southern states – Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama – started “consuming a disproportionate amount of the national supply.” In September alone, 70% of all antibody treatment orders were in those seven states.
“The imbalance prompted an effort to rein in control of supplies, over concerns that the government wouldn’t have enough on hand to respond to Covid-19 surges elsewhere in the country,” noted Politico.
An HHS spokesperson told Politico that the agency’s allocation of antibody treatments per state will be determined on a “weekly basis.”
“HHS will determine the amount of product each state and territory receives on a weekly basis,” the spokesperson said. “State and territorial health departments will subsequently identify sites that will receive product and how much.”
Amid the high demand, the Biden administration will increase weekly shipments from 150,000 to 100,000 doses, but state officials say that the limitations will persist at least until October.
“Nobody was really using monoclonal antibodies until a few weeks ago. Then there was just this surge of use,” said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials. “There is now clearly a shortage.”