Republican Governors Reject Masks in Favor of Covid Cocktails
Infection-fighting antibodies may keep patients with mild Covid symptoms out of hospitals, say Florida, Missouri and Texas governors. But the treatments and costs are thousands of dollars higher than vaccinations.
The Republican governors of several states that have been worst affected by the epidemic are advocating for the use of costly Covid -19 cocktails rather than inexpensive face masks.
The governors of Florida, Missouri, and Texas have pledged millions of dollars in antibody therapies for individuals who have been infected with the virus.
Even as they oppose vaccination and mask requirements, they claim that doing so would allow them to keep individuals with minor Covid symptoms out of hospitals that are already overburdened with new cases.
However, the therapies and the costs associated with delivering them are thousands of dollars more expensive than preventative vaccinations. They are more difficult to administer since they function best when administered early in an illness.
Public health experts and several members of the Biden administration have criticized the governors' decision to medicate, claiming that it suggests that Covid-19 can be treated as simply as a regular cold.
In their opinion, therapy with antibodies, such as Regeneron's antibody cocktail — which was given to former President Donald Trump during his battle with the illness — is critical.
Nonetheless, it is a tool in a limited arsenal to prevent people from being hospitalized or dying, rather than a game-changer that might aid in the eradication of the epidemic.
It is also important for these leaders to advocate for the best public health guidance on what we know works to protect individuals against this virus, rather than just treating individuals exposed to it, according to a senior administration official who was not authorized to do so speak on the subject.
The president stressed the importance of prevention during his speech on the pandemic response on Wednesday, stating, "The following are the two most important methods of safeguarding ourselves from Covid-19:
- One vaccination that is safe, free, and effective.
- And then there are the masks.
Vaccines are the most effective protection, although face masks may also be beneficial."
On occasion, Biden announced that employees in federally financed nursing facilities would be required to get Covid-19 vaccines, and he escalated a battle with Republican governors over school mask requirements.
Despite this, authorities from the red states are pushing through with antibody therapies.
A blanket prescription for Regeneron's mixture was granted by the state's surgeon general on Monday, allowing anybody in the state to obtain it without a doctor's approval.
The federal government bought more than 1.5 million doses of Regeneron's therapy at the cost of about $2,100 each dosage.
Patients have access to the medication because states have paid to establish personnel locations to administer the medication.
Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday and was treated with Regeneron's cocktail, announced the opening of nine new antibody infusion facilities, claiming that they would reduce hospitalizations.
And the state of Missouri intends to spend $15 million in CARES Act funds to establish and staff at least five additional infusion facilities across the state.
In all three states, the governors have urged people to be vaccinated while downplaying the efficacy of other mitigating measures such as masks and lockdowns and dismissing the idea of forced vaccinations.
Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are in court right now defending their ban on school mask requirements, even though the two states now account for more than one-third of all Covid hospitalizations in the country combined.
In the words of Quinton Lucas, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, "it doesn't make sense to stand in the way of science and unambiguous public health advice that we are receiving from all non-crackpot physicians, nurses, and professionals in this nation."
We have this debate about [infusion] centers that can be avoided if we get people vaccinated, and that's something I'm all for."
While the White House has encouraged states with poor vaccination rates and rising caseloads to take advantage of these therapies, the administration has stressed that these treatments cannot replace the primary goal of preventing people from becoming ill in the first place.
It is customary for the antibodies to be administered at infusion facilities, and the therapy may take up to two hours.
Some hospitals are required to establish different locations or temporary buildings to complete the job.
On Wednesday, the governor said that vaccination reduces the likelihood of getting seriously sick but that "breakthrough infections" are not uncommon.
According to his spokeswoman Christina Pushaw, it was never the governor's intention for antibody therapies to be considered a replacement for vaccinations.
He has participated in hundreds of promotional events for the film.
Even though most people are aware of the vaccination, she pointed out that many people were unfamiliar with antibodies. It was essential for the governor to draw attention to this issue.
Governor DeSantis takes data-driven choices and follows scientific principles, according to her.
"Critics of his decision to extend access to lifesaving Covid-19 therapies are placing politics before of public health, putting lives at danger as a result of their actions.
The use of monoclonal antibodies for therapy is not, and should not be a divisive issue."
On the other hand, DeSantis has been one of the most outspoken public figures in asserting that fears about the virus are exaggerated.
Affair with Biden over Covid restrictions has resulted in a lawsuit to prevent cruise lines from imposing a vaccine mandate. He has also hawked merchandise that makes fun of Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, and argued that there is no empirical evidence that mask mandates work to stop the spread of Covid-19 — or that the benefits of school mask mandates outweigh the risks.
Several studies have shown that masks may reduce transmission in indoor environments. Face coverings are recommended in schools by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regardless of whether or not a student has received a vaccine.
However, in areas with poor vaccination rates and wearing masks is still considered taboo, monoclonal antibodies are rapidly being seen as the last and best chance to save the healthcare system.
After issuing a standing order on Sunday, Mississippi state health officer Thomas Dobbs made it possible for anyone living anywhere in the state to get care, even if they do not have a physician.
Doctors in Alabama, where there are no more intensive care units (ICUs), rely on monoclonal antibodies to keep the state's healthcare system running.
Tennessee's health commissioner, Lisa Piercey, told reporters on Monday that, with hospitals already overburdened, individuals should make use of monoclonal antibodies to treat their illnesses.
'I'm always shocked by how few people are aware of it,' she says.
However, although almost everyone believes that these treatments are essential, some public health professionals are concerned that publicizing them would perpetuate the misconception that only immunocompromised individuals need vaccinations or masks.
Further, according to Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations, individuals are more prone to transmit the infection before recognizing they need medical attention.
"If that's our approach, we're not going to be able to put a stop to the epidemic any time soon," he added.