The Biden administration is tightening its grip on the distribution of coronavirus monoclonal antibody treatments to states after a slew of predominately Republican-led states in the South have started requesting larger amounts of the treatment to battle rising coronavirus cases.
“Federal health officials plan to allocate specific amounts to each state under the new approach, in an effort to more evenly distribute the 150,000 doses that the government makes available each week,” Politico reported. “The approach is likely to cut into shipments to GOP-led states in the Southeast that have made the pricey antibody drug a central part of their pandemic strategy, while simultaneously spurning mask mandates and other restrictions.”
The news comes after Biden, who has launched political attacks against top Republican governors, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has struggled to contain the pandemic, which was one of the issues that he ran on in 2020.
“Still, until recently, the administration had shipped the antibody treatments to states on an as-needed basis — with top health officials in early August going as far as encouraging those battling the Delta surge to seek even more supply,” the report added. “But demand from a handful of southern states has exploded since then, state and federal officials said, raising concerns they were consuming a disproportionate amount of the national supply. Seven states — Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama — accounted for 70 percent of all orders in early September.”
The report said that the large uptick in the use of the treatments prompted their decision to take more control over-allocating the treatments to different states.
“HHS will determine the amount of product each state and territory receives on a weekly basis. State and territorial health departments will subsequently identify sites that will receive product and how much,” said a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This system will help maintain equitable distribution, both geographically and temporally, across the country — providing states and territories with consistent, fairly distributed supply over the coming weeks.”
The decision has prompted backlash from health officials across the South, including Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, who said that the treatments were a “lifesaver” for some if used early during treatment.
“We’re calling on the federal government to help us provide more of this treatment, not less, so we can save lives and keep COVID patients out of the hospital,” Arora said.
The administration’s move to restrict the distribution of the treatments has even garnered criticism from Republican governors who are normally friendly toward the administration, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
“Today, I pressed President Biden’s team to explain the sudden rationing of these life-saving treatments, without any warning, after the administration urged us to promote them,” Hogan said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is yet another example of confusing and conflicting guidance coming from the federal government.”
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