Not only does Tampa General Hospital say it's the first in Florida to offer Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody treatment, but it's also one of just five sites identified by the state that can store Pfizer's vaccine in ultra-low refrigeration. 

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. DeSantis said COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in Florida within 3-6 weeks

  • Tampa General Hospital among five sites identified by the state that can store Pfizer vaccine at the ultra-low temperatures required

  • TGH says it's first in Florida to administer Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody treatment

Gov. Ron DeSantis released a video update Thursday on vaccine progress, but he noted the significance of the Eli Lilly cocktail, as well. He said the state received 3,000 doses from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, which were sent directly to hospitals.

"Monoclonal antibodies are truly a testament to the scientific breakthrough in technology that we have been able to advance all these years," said Dr. Seetha Lakshmi, an infectious disease physician with with USF Health and TGH. 

Lakshmi said the antibodies are like bullets, honing in on the virus and making it easier for soldier immune cells to destroy. The FDA granted the therapy emergency use authorization last week, and it's a treatment doctors are still learning about.

"As far as we know, it seems to benefit a niche group of people that are truly immunocompromised, highest at risk for complication, and really early on," said Lakshmi. "There's limited supply, but also we're in the process of figuring out who benefits from this. USF and Tampa General are working very closely to ensure it's the right group of people that get the treatment."

DeSantis said the state is expecting a similar shipment of the treatment every week for the foreseeable future.

As for a vaccine, the Governor said a total of 40 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should be available by the end of next month.

"As soon as the FDA approves, they will then go out within the next 24 hours, and we expect our hospitals, hopefully, our hospitals will receive them in the next three-to-six weeks. It's all contingent on when the FDA approves.

DeSantis noted the Pfizer vaccinie needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures of around 70-degrees below zero. The state identified TGH as one of five sites in Florida that can do that. Lakshmi said while it's unclear when the vaccine will arrive, the hospital does have an idea of who will get it first.

"The health care workers on the front lines are going to be the priority number one, so that's phase one, and anybody who's at risk for contracting COVID-19 because of their job. So, all the essential workers on the front line will be phase one of the vaccine," Lakshmi said.

According to the Governor, CVS and Walgreens may also start receiving doses around the same time hospitals are or shortly after. He said those are expected to be administered to residents of long term care facilities.