DeSantis Calls on Biden to Let States Buy Antibodies in First Press Event Since Holidays

Governor Ron DeSantis is urging the Biden administration to let Florida and other states buy more supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments as Omicron continues to tear through the nation.

At his first news conference since mid-December, DeSantis on Monday said the Sunshine State has the capacity to "immediately" open more treatment sites once they stock up on more doses. The Republican governor is seeking between 30,000 and 40,000 doses.

"We feel there's no need for it to just be sitting on the shelves," DeSantis said. "We ask them to stop preventing the distribution of these treatments."

The governor later tweeted, "Instead of keeping a stranglehold on monoclonal antibodies, the federal government must release its stockpiles to states who want them and allow states to purchase these medications directly."

DeSantis also said if the federal government were willing to sell treatments, Florida has "the ability to buy it ourselves" with more than $1 billion set aside.

DeSantis Wants States Buy Own Antibodies
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is calling on the Biden administration to let states buy their own monoclonal antibody supplies. In this photo, DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Shul of Bal Harbour on June 14, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida officials have been highlighting monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 for months.

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo slammed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for pausing allocations of two monoclonal antibody treatments: Regeneron and Eli Lilly. The department said it was doing so because leaders found the doses were unlikely to be effective in diffusing the Omicron variant.

DeSantis announced Monday that the federal agency has "reversed course" on withholding the treatments from states.

"I think that's the right thing to do," the governor remarked. "We're past the point now where we're able to get it directly from any of these companies. The federal government has cornered the entire market."

Newsweek reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.

Florida has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases since the emergence of the Omicron variant. In late December, the state broke its single-day record for new virus cases three times in one week.

The surge has led to shortages of antibody treatments and COVID-19 testing. The governor was criticized by his opponents for being out of the public eye as the state experienced record-high case numbers after the Christmas holiday.

DeSantis on Monday acknowledged the "crunch" on the number of tests available in the state, and his administration urged new guidelines for who should get screened.

Ladapo said his goal is to reduce the use of "low-value testing," or testing that won't likely lead to a change in outcome. For example, Ladapo said, a grandmother getting a test is more "high value" than younger children.

"We need to unwind this sort of planning and living one's life around testing. Without it, we're going to be sort of stuck in the same cycle," the surgeon general said. "It's really time for people to be living, to make the decisions they want regarding vaccination, to enjoy the fact that many people have natural immunity and to unwind this preoccupation with only COVID as determining the boundaries and constraints and possibilities of life."