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DeSantis Provides Updates On New COVID-19 Treatments, Vaccine Distribution

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in a video Wednesday about new developments with COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

Speaking in a video released Wednesday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans for the distribution of possible COVID-19 vaccines.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says a pair of new COVID-19 treatments will soon be available in hospitals across the state.

Regeneron’s drug is a combination of two antibodies that will help vulnerable COVID-19 patients. It was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend.

Baricitnib also received emergency use authorization from the FDA recently. The drug, which is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Incyte, is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. When used with the drug remdesivir, the combination enhances survival in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The goal of these treatments is to keep people out of the hospital.

Speaking in a video released Wednesday morning, DeSantis also announced plans for the distribution of possible COVID-19 vaccines.

“I spoke with the top pharmacists at both CVS and Walgreens involved in Operation Warp Speed (on Tuesday),” said DeSantis. “They assured me that as soon as they have the vaccine in hand, they are ready to deploy to Florida’s over 4,000 long-term care facilities to begin vaccinating the residents.”

DeSantis added that more than 3,000 of those facilities have already signed up to provide vaccinations.

“As more vaccines become available, we of course are going to want to get that into the broader senior community first, and then into the broader community at large. But as we anxiously await the vaccine, I think it’s important to double down on protecting our most vulnerable, particularly our vulnerable seniors in long-term care facilities,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis has also set aside an additional 500,000 rapid coronavirus tests, which will allow long-term care facilities to test all staff, visitors and contractors.

“We have all longed for the day when our long-term care residents can return to normal, and that day is finally within our grasp,” said DeSantis.

After distributing the vaccine to long-term care residents and other at-risk seniors, frontline health care workers will be the next in line, according to DeSantis.

On Dec. 10, the FDA will meet regarding a vaccine from pharmaceutical company Pfizer. They also plan to review Moderna’s vaccine soon.

Pfizer and Moderna expect to initially produce about 40 million doses of vaccine nationwide by the end of December — but since each person needs to receive two doses of the vaccine, about 20 million Americans will be vaccinated in the first round.

Five Florida hospitals, including Tampa General, are in line to receive the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine sometime in the next three to six weeks, pending FDA approval.

Rachel Giannelli