Tallahassee, FL - In a video published on Thursday (November 19th), Governor Ron DeSantis talks about Florida's vaccine distribution plan along with new therapeutic treatments available to those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The treatment DeSantis is referring to is a monoclonal antibody cocktail developed by the Indiana-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly—which, according to DeSantis, has already been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is administered through an IV and is said to be best used for people who are at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
According to DeSantis, it takes an hour for the treatment to be administered and it takes about an hour to observe the patient afterwards.
"The key is to deliver the IV as soon in the infection as possible," said DeSantis. "This will be people who show up to an emergency room, are developing symptoms but are not yet at a critical state, where they would be in an intensive care unit."
DeSantis further added that data from clinical trials found a 70 percent reduction in hospitalized patients who used the treatment. A similar cocktail is also being created by the New York-based pharmaceutical company Regeneron, but that has yet to receive any kind of emergency use authorization from the FDA.
"We surveyed all hospitals in Florida to determine demand. We sent that information to the federal government and the Health and Human Services department used that information and have now sent over 3,000 doses of the treatment directly to hospitals. This has arrived just within the past few days, and they plan on sending a similar amount every week for the foreseeable future."
On the subject of vaccines, the state has been on top of procuring any and all supplies needed to prepare for vaccine distribution throughout Florida—including purchasing five million syringes, five million needles and five million alcohol swabs.
At the moment, the best estimate given by the federal government is that vaccines should be distributed sometime by the end of December. All told, there should be roughly 40 million doses of the two vaccines that are currently available, which are made by Pfizer and Moderna. Those vaccines, however, are still pending FDA approval.
One challenge that the vaccines pose is storage, at least in the case of Pfizer's vaccine. But it seems the state has already identified five hospital systems within Florida that have the ability to store it, which has to be kept at a temperature of -70 degrees. The Moderna vaccine, on the other hand, is able to be stored in regular refrigeration.
"The good thing about this is millions of doses are ready to ship as we speak. As soon as the FDA approves, they will then go out within the next 24 hours. We expect our hospitals, hopefully, to receive these within the next 3 to 6 weeks. It is all contingent on when the FDA approves."
DeSantis also stated nearly 2,000 long-term care facilities have registered to receive the vaccines, once they are available.
"Our goal is to make all safe and effective COVID vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines," said DeSantis. "That is going to be the choice of each and every Floridian."