The federal government should release more monoclonal antibody treatments to the state and "stop playing politics" with the supply, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez told Newsmax on Monday.
"We have the infrastructure in place; we have the sites; we have the staffing; we have the ability to make these lifesaving [monoclonal antibody] treatments available to the public," Nunez told "American Agenda." "We just need the supply, and so instead of getting in our way, instead of allowing us to just continue to do what we were doing so successfully, [President Joe Biden's officials] continue to put obstacles in our way. We want Floridians to have access to this treatment that's effective, and it's proven it's safe. It's efficient. We are just continuing to ask the Biden administration to release the supply.
"Stop playing politics if that's your end game. This is about lives. We want to save lives."
Biden's Department of Health and Human Services started limiting the amount of the treatments individual states could order in September, fearing a shortage during the delta COVID-19 variant surge, Forbes according to reports.
The department decided to allocate the treatments to states with high case counts and low vaccination rates, instead of letting states freely order them on their own, according to Forbes.
The Washington Post reported in September the department changed its policy and purchased 1.4 million additional doses to stop an anticipated shortage of the treatments, which had been going to "deep south" states that were using an estimated 70% of the national supply.
In December, Florida's Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said the government was limiting the state's access to the drugs on purpose.
"The federal government is actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S," Ladapo wrote in December, according to Pensacola television station WEAR. "The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a healthcare provider's ability to decide the best treatment options for their patients in this state.
"This shortsightedness is especially evident given that the federal government effectively prohibited states from purchasing these monoclonal antibodies and serving their populations directly."
Nunez said Florida set up its sites to distribute the antibodies early on during the delta surge in the summer under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis and they were very effective.
"Florida led the way with the leadership of Gov. DeSantis," she said. "We set up these monoclonal sites, we proved that we were reducing hospitalization and saving lives.
"And then, all of a sudden, the federal government decided to seize control [of the medication], so we were no longer to be able to obtain this supply based on our own advisers. What happens after is that you see how this supply, now all of a sudden, the federal government is taking control. They're not releasing these licensed treatments to Florida, and we are desperately asking them to reconsider. The governor has been very firm."
Nunez said she could not say if limiting the amount of treatment doses the state gets is directly responsible for deaths in the state as the omicron variant surges, but she did say people are being put in "precarious" positions that could put lives in danger.
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