Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis Trade Barbs as Florida's Monoclonal Antibodies Restricted

President Joe Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have publicly traded criticism over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as the federal government moves to prevent shortages of monoclonal antibodies.

The Biden administration is taking over the distribution of the antibodies, which are used to treat COVID-19, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will now be in charge of distribution.

DeSantis strongly criticized the decision on Thursday because it will result in Florida receiving fewer monoclonal antibodies than it previously had. He pledged to "fight like hell" to get the treatment to those in Florida who need it.

"Just last week, on September 9, President Joe Biden said that his administration would be increasing shipments of monoclonal antibodies in September by 50 percent," DeSantis said at a press conference in Broward County, Florida.

"And yet, on September 13, HHS announced that it was seizing control of the monoclonal antibody supply and that it would control distribution."

DeSantis went on: "We're facing a massive, massive cut in monoclonal antibody treatments abruptly. Just after the president said they would have a 50 percent increase, we're now seeing more than a 50 percent cut for the state of Florida. So we're going to fight like hell to make sure that our folks get what they need."

The Republican governor said Florida could purchase the antibodies directly from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

"They do not have a direct purchase agreement with the federal government. The federal government has bought all the Regeneron," DeSantis said. "We are not able to buy [Regeneron] directly, given that."

Florida is one of a group of seven states that have received 70 percent of orders for monoclonal antibody treatments. The others are Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana

President Biden also took aim at DeSantis through his official Twitter account on Thursday.

"Republican governors in states like Texas and Florida are doing everything they can to undermine the public health requirements that keep people safe," Biden tweeted.

Republican governors in states like Texas and Florida are doing everything they can to undermine the public health requirements that keep people safe.

They're playing politics with the lives of their citizens, especially children. I refuse to give in to it.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 16, 2021

"They're playing politics with the lives of their citizens, especially children. I refuse to give in to it," he wrote.

DeSantis opposes mask mandates and has threatened local governments that try to impose them with fines, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order imposing fines on local officials who impose mask requirements, among other measures.

Under the Biden administration's new plans for monoclonal antibodies, Florida is set to receive 27,850 does of Regeneron this week. That's significantly less than the weekly average of 72,000 that the state's clinics and providers had been ordering, according to DeSantis' office.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the administration's distribution plan on Thursday.

"Just seven states are making up 70 percent of the orders. Our supply is not unlimited and we believe it should be equitable across states," Psaki said.

"I think our role as the government overseeing the entire country is to be equitable in how we distribute. We're not going to give a greater percentage to Florida over Oklahoma," she said.

Photo Composite Shows DeSantis and Biden
This composite photo shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden. The two have traded criticism over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Getty Images