TAMPA, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis was at the Hillsborough County Health Department Monday, as he continues to tour monoclonal antibody treatment sites that are opening statewide.
As hospitals continue to feel the strain of the pandemic, the governor's speech focused on the importance of early treatment.
"If you get COVID positive, and you go in early, this has a great chance of resolving your symptoms short of needing to be hospitalized," DeSantis said.
Monoclonal antibody treatments are meant for people 12 and older who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 and are at high risk of becoming severely sick.
"We have now done over 30,000 monoclonal antibodies treatments using our 21 sites," the governor said.
To drive home his point, DeSantis brought in people who could share their personal testimonies on the impact early treatment has had on their families.
"A miracle," is how Debra Levine described the drug's effect on her father.
Levine's father received the antibody treatment after her daughter reached out to the governor's office for help.
"He is recovering very well in his brand new facility and he is very happy," Alexandra Levine, Debra's daughter, said.
DeSantis has advocated for vaccines, most notable pushing to get them to older Floridians. But for anyone who gets COVID, he said early antibody treatment is another tool to keep people from hospitalization.
In Florida, COVID-19 hospitalizations have gone down 7.9-percent in the last week, according to the Florida Hospital Association.
If you're trying to make every effort to stay out of the hospitals, doctors say your best bet isn't an antibody treatment. It's the vaccine.
"[The antibody treatment] is pretty effective, but it's only about 70-percent effective at keeping you out of the hospital," Dr. Michael Teng, a professor at USF's College of Internal Medicine, said. "The vaccines are more than that. They're over 90-percent effective in keeping you out of the hospital."
Regeneron, the most high-profile drug used for monoclonal antibody treatment, has not yet received full FDA approval.
"The Pfizer vaccine is an FDA-approved drug," Dr. Teng said. "This monoclonal antibody treatment is under emergency use authorization."
Total hospitalizations have been falling for the last four days. You may be wondering if early treatment measures have contributed. Dr. Teng said Florida does not track or share data on hospitalizations based on if a patient has received monoclonal antibody treatment.