President Biden’s administration has effectively “cornered the entire market” for lifesaving coronavirus treatments, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Monday.
Holding his first press conference of 2022 at the Broward Health Medical Center Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, DeSantis announced the federal government has decided to “reverse course” and send treatments to the state following Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s letter written to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The federal government stopped sending Eli Lilly and Regeneron treatments based on a preliminary study that said it may not be effective against omicron, “But of course omicron is not the only variant that’s out there,” DeSantis explained, noting it has worked against the variant in some cases.
“It’s something that we actually have seen applied with omicron patients and we have seen symptoms resolved, so it’s not clear that this is not something that is going to not be a benefit. It may not be as good as it was against delta, but we obviously want to have that here for patients to be able to do it,” he explained, announcing that on Sunday, HHS “decided to reverse course and they are going to be sending these treatments.”
“I think that’s the right thing to do, and we’re past a point now where we’re able to get it directly from any of these companies. The federal government has cornered the entire market they basically took control of the supply in September,” he explained, noting the state no longer has access to directly purchase treatments due to the Feds’ exclusive arrangement.
“We have been able to see, though, enough data from South Africa, Europe, and now here in the United States, to know, fortunately, that omicron is far less pathogenic than the delta variant was,” he said, describing the symptoms as “mild, brief” and in the upper respiratory region. However, that variant does spread “far, far more rapidly.”
“And I think we’ve also seen with omicron, you know the vaccinations are not preventing infection,” he continued, using Miami-Dade as an example, describing it as one of the most vaccinated places. Despite that, it has “huge huge omicron infections.”
There are indications that omicron infections may generate immunity against delta as well, DeSantis added.
“So we’re able to say today, now that we have the pathway cleared with certain treatments … we have the ability and we will immediately turn on additional sites as soon as the federal government gives us the supply,” he said, opening additional sites in Broward County, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach County, Central Florida, and 5-10 more depending on demand. That, however, is wholly contingent on the federal government sending the needed doses, he stressed.
“We do not believe that the federal government should be holding back any more medications,” the governor added.