Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on Tuesday accused the Biden administration of actively blocking the sending of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 patients to Florida, according to a letter he sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra.
Both HHS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in September the federal government would pause the distribution of antibody therapies manufactured by Regeneron and Eli Lily.
The White House still supplies Sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody from Glaxosmithkline, which reportedly works against the Omicron variant.
But Ladapo, who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis several months ago, contended that “federal agencies under your control should not limit our state’s access to any available treatment for COVID-19,” according to his letter to Becerra.
“Florida can expand treatment options for patients by distributing therapeutics to providers working in areas with a low prevalence of Omicron or clinics capable of variant screening,” his letter read.
Going a step further, Ladapo accused the administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S.” and remarked that the “sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a health care provider’s ability to the best treatment options for their patients in this state.”
A spokesperson for HHS disputed that Ladapo’s claims, arguing the federal government “never stopped allocating or shipping COVID-19 therapeutics to Florida.”
“With regard to monoclonal antibody treatments, the federal government has allocated about 22,000 doses in just the past two weeks (11,050 doses last week and 10,576 doses this week),” the spokesperson told The Epoch Times Wednesday. “That’s in addition to the approximately 28,000 doses of product that they have on hand from their previous orders.”
As of now, Florida should have a “strong supply” of treatment regimens and “more than most other states,” said the HHS official, who added HHS will “work with Florida to supply them with federal resources.”
In his letter, Ladapo also referenced President Joe Biden’s recent comment about there being “no federal solution” to deal with the two-year-long pandemic. The president suggested that state governments ultimately are in control of their own destinies.
“Florida is a large, diverse state with one of the highest percentages of seniors in the U.S., and we must empower healthcare providers to make decisions that will save the lives of Americans everywhere without the dictates imposed by the federal government,” Ladapo added in the letter.
Earlier this week, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott criticized the federal government for not distributing Sotrovimab after several infusion centers allegedly ran out of the treatment therapy.
On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director (CDC) Rochelle Walensky, in a round of television interviews, said she was watching the nation’s caseload and its potential impact on health care providers due to the Omicron variant.
“We may have many, many more cases and so we may still very well see a lot of severe disease in the hospitals,” Walensky said.
States showing the highest daily infection numbers on Tuesday included New York, which reported as many as 40,780 cases, and California, which reported over 30,000. Texas reported more than 17,000 cases and Ohio over 15,000.
The Omicron variant was estimated to make up 58.6 percent of the COVID-19 variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 25, according to data from the CDC.
Reuters contributed to this report.