Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday responded to the Biden administration’s decision to slash lifesaving coronavirus treatment to sick Americans as his feud with Republican governors heats up, vowing to “work like hell to get them the treatment” they need.
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Biden administration revealed that it would slash lifesaving antibody treatment to states in pursuit of “equitable distribution,” despite the fact that Biden vowed last week to “increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.”
But now, the administration views the demand in southern states as a problem and is slashing the supply.
“We are very, very concerned with the Biden administration and the HHS’s recent, abrupt, sudden announcement that they are going to dramatically cut the number of monoclonal antibodies that are going to be sent to the state of Florida,” DeSantis said, noting that early treatment of the virus must be part of the approach of addressing the pandemic, particularly as fall and winter surges in other parts of the country come.
DeSantis reminded reporters of Biden’s initial announcement last week to “increase” shipments by 50 percent. Yet days later, federal officials announced they were seizing control and would control distribution.
What the HHS and the Biden administration is now doing, is they’re saying that all of the reduced amount will go to the state, and we’re responsible not only for sourcing our sites, which we’re happy to do, but any infusion center, any provider, any hospital, will have to come through the state. And to just spring this on us starting next week, we’re going to have to do that? There’s going to be a huge disruption and patients are going to suffer as a result of this. And so we’re going to work like hell to make sure we can overcome the obstacles that HHS and the Biden administration are putting on us.
DeSantis addressed the claim that the administration’s official decision is rooted in equity concerns but noted that the South had higher prevalence of the virus this summer. He also noted that the treatment is used a lot in the Sunshine State because he raised awareness and made it a priority. It was not a priority at the federal level for “months and months and months,” he added.
“We saw the need. We saw patients that were coming in. We saw a gap in understanding amongst the population. 100 percent of our population knew that there were vaccines. I’d be willing to bet probably less than 10 percent had a firm understanding of monoclonal antibodies,” DeSantis said, adding that they “saw that deficiency” and acted accordingly.
“We saw a lot of physicians didn’t even know this was an option, and so we acted. We were able to raise awareness, and we were able to expand access for people, which is very important. That should be celebrated,” he said, mentioning the 90,000-plus individuals who would not have gotten treatment otherwise. Thousands could have ended up in the hospital, and some of the cases may have been fatal, he added.
“It has saved lives here in the state of Florida,” he added.
DeSantis said demand for lifesaving treatment has naturally increased across the country because many people did not know it was an option.
“But man, to just kind of pull the rug out from anyone a week after the president said they were going to be increasing the distributions by 50 percent, it’s very, very problematic,” he said, promising that the state will cover its bases and fight to leave “no stone unturned” to address the cut.
“Whoever needs treatment, we’re going to work like hell to get them the treatment,” DeSantis added.