Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference at the Fasano Center in Pasco County on Thursday, August 19. The purpose of the briefing was to announce the opening of the center as a new location for people to get Monoclonal Antibody treatments. These treatments can lessen the severity of Covid-19 if given at an early stage in the disease and possibly prevent someone from catching Covid, in the first place. The drug works by releasing antibodies that help the immune system recognize and respond effectively to the virus.
Monoclonal Antibody treatments have been approved by the FDA. The drug is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron and goes by the name of REGEN-COV.
Addressing the members of the press was the governor, Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie, FDEM Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Scheppke and Florida State Senator Wilton Simpson.
The new center at 11611 Denton Avenue in Hudson will be open seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site will be able to do 300 treatments per day. You do not have to be a resident of Pasco County to get the treatments here. If you are twelve years of age or older and have either contracted Covid-19 or been exposed to someone with Covid-19 and are at high risk for severe illness or hospitalization, you’re eligible for the treatment, even if you have received the vaccinations. Best of all, the treatments are free.
Chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive diseases, obesity, sickle cell anemia and chronic lung or cardiovascular disease are some of the conditions that can cause someone to be more vulnerable. Being over the age of 65 can also pose a risk of a severe reaction to Covid. For a more extensive list of conditions that may put a person at risk go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html
Citing the rise in hospitalizations over the summer, DeSantis stated, “It is our belief, based on the data, that if more people had known about this [monoclonal antibody treatments] and had done it, hospital admissions would have been lower. We think that with more uptick on this that the admissions will go lower.”
The key to the effectiveness of Regeneron is to have the treatment prior to the onset of severe symptoms. High-risk people should get the treatment as quickly as possible, ideally within three to five days of either testing positive or being exposed to the virus. Once someone is severely ill or hospitalized the effectiveness is drastically reduced.
State Senator Wilton Simpson commented, “This treatment will take the pressure off our hospital systems which are stretched very thin right now. I believe this will save many lives.”
DeSantis emphasized that the monoclonal antibody treatment does not replace the Covid-19 vaccines. However, it has been proven in several studies to be effective against the Delta variant and Regeneron is the only one that’s approved as a preventive measure. In nursing homes this is a very important concern.
By the same token, young people over the age of twelve who have underlying conditions or have been exposed to Covid-infected individuals and attend “brick and mortar” schools can also benefit from getting the treatment.
Dr. Kenneth Scheppke, remarked, “Regeneron has been tested in thousands of subjects in clinical trials and has been proven to be effective against hospitalizations and deaths. It works both intravenously and subcutaneously [through injection].”
There have already been twelve of these centers set up. The state plans to have at least a total of seventeen open in the next few weeks. If you don’t live in close proximity to one of these centers, many hospitals and clinics provide the treatment for free, as well. You can find locations at www.Covid.infusioncenter.org.
If you are at risk for Covid, have been exposed to someone who has tested positive or have tested positive yourself, the procedure to get the treatment is simple. Again, you do not have to have a referral by a doctor. Just go online to www.patientportalFL.com and sign up at a center near you.
Once you arrive, you’ll be asked for your medical history to determine if you are in one of the high risk categories. If you’re over 65, you immediately qualify regardless of your health condition. After that, you’ll receive the injection and will then be monitored for any adverse reactions for one hour.
DeSantis concluded with an urgent appeal to the public.
“Early treatment saves lives. Regeneron protects most people from needing to be hospitalized if they get it early, so don’t wait until your symptoms get worse. Whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone in high risk groups can get this proven lifesaving treatment free of charge. Please tell your friends, family and communities!”
For more information on the state’s efforts regarding Covid19 go to: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/treatment/