JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the Florida Department of Emergency Management was launching an effort to increase access to monoclonal antibody treatments as a way to keep people out of the hospital.

What You Need To Know

  • Governor announces expansion of antibody treatments to fight COVID-19

  • DeSantis says Duval County plans to roll out ‘rapid-response unit’ Thursday

  • FDA says such treatments potentially effective for people at high risk of COVID

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has touted such treatments, including casirivimab and imdevimab, as potentially effective for adults and children over age 12 who stand at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19.

In announcing an emergency use authorization late last year for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the FDA said “it is reasonable to believe that casirivimab and imdevimab administered together may be effective in treating patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.”

After his COVID-19 diagnosis late last year, former President Donald Trump reportedly received the Regeneron treatment and touted it as a cure. Regeneron touts its Regen-Cov treatment as a cocktail "designed specifically to block infectivity" of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“I think this is probably the best thing we can do to reduce the number of people who require hospitalization,” DeSantis said Thursday.

The announcement came as Florida remains a hotbed of a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic, with hospitals reporting stressed staffs and capacity, and as DeSantis remains under criticism for his handling of the pandemic. That includes a spat with the Biden administration over his policies to ban local school districts from requiring mask mandates.

DeSantis made his comments during a Jacksonville news conference that included officials from Jacksonville and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The governor spoke in front of a Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department Mobile Incident Management Unit from where he said Duval County and the state would deploy a “rapid-response unit” beginning at noon.

The effort will expand in Duval County and throughout the state “as needed,” he said.

“We’re going to bring a lot more Regeneron into Florida,” DeSantis said. “This is the most effective treatment that we’ve yet encountered.”

He cited people who benefit most as the elderly and people with diabetes, kidney disease, morbid obesity and others at high risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.

DeSantis said the treatment remained in an experimental phase for much of last year but since has become “widely available through hospitals, doctor's offices.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported in June that the treatment had gone underused because it required intravaneous infusions but that it now could be administered via injection.

“This is the best shot we’ve got right now to keep people out of the hospital and keep them safe,” DeSantis said.