Psaki confirms suspicions about monoclonal treatment shutdown
On January 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shut down Florida’s popular monoclonal treatment sites. Without warning, the FDA revised its emergency use authorization (EUA) to cancel appointments for thousands of Floridians who were to be treated for mild to moderate COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies.
The FDA cites the ineffectiveness of the monoclonal antibody treatments against the new omicron variant. Florida governor Ron DeSantis fired back that this was simply the latest in a series of threats to punish Florida patients and their doctors.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s response left no doubt that this latest ham-fisted move was designed to chastise Florida and threaten other governors who challenge the administration’s strategy on COVID-19. Psaki simply announced that monoclonal antibodies “do not work against Omicron.” But if Jen’s word isn’t good enough, she added, “this is what scientists are saying” gesticulating in her trademark flourishing hand movements.
The CDC still estimates that the majority of COVID-19 deaths in mid-January 2022 were from the Delta variant. Many Floridians who are sick today are ill from Delta. Moreover, if the Delta variant accounted for 1 percent (the low end of estimates) of the 1.2 million cases in the past month in Florida, more than 10,000 Floridians who would undoubtedly benefit from monoclonal antibodies are now out of luck.
COVID-19-infected patients who had their treatments canceled were probably not thought of as casualties by the arrogant and preposterously self-righteous White House press secretary. Psaki must think she is saving them from a disingenuous huckster governor. “Unfortunately, from the mouths of elected officials, and the advocating for things that don't work, even when we know things do work,” Psaki said pivoting to the reason the FDA punished Florida: “injecting disinfectant, promoting other pseudoscience, sowing doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines and boosters. And now promoting treatments that don't work.”
There it is. Psaki said it. This wasn’t about “what scientists are saying” or the true number of Omicron vs. Delta cases in Florida, it was about Governor Ron DeSantis. Newsweek writers didn’t create “Monoclonals Ineffective Against Omicron” as their headline on the story, instead running with the more accurate “Florida's Monoclonal Antibody Clinics Close in Blow to Ron DeSantis” for their article.
There was a time not long ago when shame would have prevented an administration from attempting such a blatantly cheap political shot. This is taking medication from coronavirus victims. Trying to paint DeSantis’ monoclonal treatment centers as roadside snake-oil stands, Psaki must imagine a long line of cars filled with maskless, febrile rubes now suffering from COVID-19 because they tried to escape the vaccinations.
This vindictive attack is familiar to the bogus accusations that called hydroxychloroquine “fish tank cleaner” and ivermectin “horse dewormer.” Psaki’s openly embarrassing and hostile reasoning against DeSantis and his state should be clear justification for President Biden to reverse this latest blunder.
Matt Dean (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior fellow for health care policy at The Heartland Institute.
Image: U.S. Mission / Eric Bridiers