WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing monoclonal antibody therapy to help some COVID-19 patients stay out of the hospital. But one drugmaker's treatment isn't proving to be as effective against omicron, said federal health leaders.
Expanding availability to monoclonal antibody therapy is one of DeSantis’ top priorities as he tries to combat claims that regeneron doesn’t work against the omicron variant.
"We don’t have the data to definitively say what doesn’t work. We don’t have enough data to definitively say it works just as well. We think it's somewhere in between," DeSantis said.
What do experts say?
"The concern that regeneron doesn't work very well for omicron is a laboratory experiment. It’s not being clinically looked at," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush.
Bush said it’s highly likely regeneron isn’t helping against the omicron variant, which contains dozens of mutations that make it harder for antibodies to attack the virus.
"The recommendation is if you can get the newest monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab, that one works well," Bush said.
All of the monoclonal therapies are in short supply.
The Florida surgeon general announced availability is expanding for anti-viral pills as well. Dr. Bush said that’s fact.
"I think that will be the game changer," Bush said.
The governor released new guidance for COVID-19 testing Thursday, urging younger, healthy individuals not to test. Experts said that's debatable.
"Testing is still important no matter what age group you are," Bush said. "You need to have contact tracing, you need to have quarantining if we want to bring this down."
The things the governor is not promoting are vaccines and boosters.
"I think the governor needs to mention vaccines. Not to say that that's the only thing to do, but to say that is a major, major component to bringing this pandemic to an end."
An Associated Press article reports the CEO of a Chicago-based hedge fund who owns $15.9 million worth of shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc. is also a major donor to a political committee that supports DeSantis.
To offer perspective, in addition to regeneron, the governor has also promoted expanding other antibody treatments like the one made by GlaxoSmithKline.