DeSantis: First COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered in Florida in 3-6 weeks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center...
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)(WILX)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 1:42 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 2:07 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida’s distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine, in a video he released Thursday afternoon.

The governor said the federal government estimates that by the end of December, pending FDA approval, there will be a combined 40 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available.

Each requires two doses, so that would mean enough vaccines for 20 million Americans by the end of December.

“The good thing about this is millions of doses are ready to ship as we speak,” the governor says. “We expect our hospitals, hopefully, to receive these within the next three to six weeks. It is all contingent on when the FDA approves.”

The governor says the state has been planning since July and has already purchased 5 million syringes, 5 million needles and 5 million alcohol swabs for distribution in Florida.

“Shortly thereafter, or maybe even at the same time that hospitals are receiving the vaccine, both CVS and Walgreens will also begin receiving the vaccine to administer to residents of long-term care facilities, who are of course our most vulnerable citizens when it comes to COVID-19,” DeSantis says in the video.

DeSantis says nearly 2,000 long-term care facilities have registered to start getting their residents vaccinated as soon as possible.

Florida will not mandate its residents to take the vaccines.

“Our goal is to make all safe and effective COVID vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines,” DeSantis says. “That is going to be the choice of each and every Floridian.”

The governor also touted two new therapeutic treatments, one available now and one expected to soon get FDA approval. The treatment Eli Lilly developed is a monoclonal antibody cocktail, which is administered through an IV.

The governor says it is best used for people who are at high risk of severe complications from coronavirus.

“The key is to deliver the IV as soon in the infection as possible,” DeSantis says. “This will be people who show up to an emergency room, are developing symptoms but are not yet at a critical state, where they would be in an intensive care unit.”

Data from clinical trials show a 70% reduction in hospitalized patients who used the treatment. DeSantis says Regeneron is developing a similar treatment, which is pending FDA approval for emergency use authorization. More than 3,000 doses of the Eli Lilly cocktail have been sent directly to Florida hospitals.

“I’ve spoken with a number of hospital CEOs and I’m pleased to report that many have already received the treatment and are moving forward administering the treatment,” DeSantis says.

More of the therapeutic treatment will arrive in Florida in the next few weeks.

DeSantis ended his announcement with an optimistic outlook.

“I do believe that these breakthroughs represent probably the greatest rays of hope that we have seen since the pandemic began,” the governor says. “They offer the prospect of saving thousands and thousands of lives, and to potentially bring this pandemic to an end.”

You can watch the governor’s video announcement at this link or below.

Wednesday evening, the governor tweeted following his meeting with U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. DeSantis says the two discussed strategy and next steps for distributing the vaccine.

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