DeSantis rolls out ‘rapid response unit’ to deliver antibody treatment to COVID-19 patients

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is creating a “rapid response unit” to dispense monoclonal antibody treatments to state residents who have become infected with Covid-19.

The announcement came in the midst of a new surge of Covid cases, mostly attributed to the delta variant. Florida reported 151,415 new Covid cases between August 6th and August 12th, a new record (in a single 7 day period) since the pandemic began in 2020, Fox News reported.

The “response units” are meant to supplement efforts to promote vaccinations rather than replace them, as the governor stated.

“I don’t think it’s an either or,” Governor DeSantis said. “We have people in society that are not vaccinated. We also have people who are vaccinated who are still testing positive. Either way, if you get in that situation, particularly in these high-risk categories, this should be your stop.”

The governor is also sending “strike teams” to deliver the antibody treatments to the state’s long-term care facilities, as a means of preventing infected persons from becoming critically or even fatally ill.

“This is the most effective treatment that we’ve yet encountered for people who are infected with Covid-19,” DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday. “This, applied early and properly, has the ability to reduce your likelihood of being hospitalized.”

Florida has been front and center in the bitter and contentious disputes over the appropriate level of government response to Covid.  Governor DeSantis has been involved in high-profile verbal sparring with President Biden over Florida’s ban on mask mandates.  Bitter and contentious accusations between the two have become a symbol of a greater divide in the American body politic, yet another casualty of a left-right tug of war.

The refusal of governors like DeSantis or Texas’ Greg Abbott to enforce mask mandates has infuriated the left, leading to all manner of hyperbolic and hysterical reactions:

It has also seen a rise in the popularity of the two governors, who many on the right see as heroes against a tyrannical overreach by a power-hungry left eager to use the pandemic to satiate their need for control.

The treatments themselves, the monoclonal antibodies, are convalescent plasma that is developed in a lab and is administered intravenously or by injection. It was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and has been used on patients who are already exposed to Covid, most notably former president Donald Trump. Availability and cost have been the limiting factors for Regeneron, however.

While DeSantis implements reactive treatments to aid the already infected, CDC director Rochelle Walensky upheld a vote on Friday that recommended some immunocompromised individuals should receive the Pfizer or Moderna COVID booster shot to decrease their likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

“This official CDC recommendation — which follows FDA’s decision to amend the emergency use authorizations of the vaccines — is an important step in ensuring everyone, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19, can get as much protection as possible from COVID-19 vaccination,” Walensky said in a statement.

Dr. Gregory Poland, Mayo Clinic’s professor of medicine, infectious diseases, and molecular pharmacology, told Fox News that he supported the measure as an “important step” toward protecting people from the coronavirus. However, he also noted that is important to distinguish which immunocompromised people are eligible for the shot, “to maximize vaccine uptake and minimize any potential confusion.”

Those deemed by their medical care provider to be moderate to severely compromised, which include “solid organ transplant recipients, patients with advanced or untreated HIV infection and those taking high-dose corticosteroids and treatments for cancer.”

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