No real connection to the pandemic, we just like this gif.

Kids, it seems that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is really mad at Joe Biden about how the federal government is dealing with the surge in new coronavirus cases in states with low vaccination rates. You see, in addition to the coronavirus vaccines that are safe, free, and highly effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19, medical science also has a pretty effective treatment available that, when given to someone infected with the virus, can often prevent them from needing hospitalization. That would be monoclonal antibody treatments, which are, as CNN helpfully explains, "lab-engineered immune system proteins that kickstart an immune response against an infection."

Now, since the antibody therapies are a good way of keeping people out of hospitals, the governors of some red states, like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas, have made a point of setting up infusion sites where infected folks can be treated, and that's great because it saves lives.


But as Politico notes, a lot of those very same states have done very little to control the spread of the virus:

[As] Delta fueled a resurgence throughout the Southeast, Republican governors latched onto the treatments as a preferred alternative to reimposing public health restrictions. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has opened a series of antibody infusion centers, even as he's sought to ban mask requirements in schools.

DeSantis has similarly touted efforts to make the treatment widely available, while downplaying the virus' threat and criticizing the Biden administration's support for vaccine mandates and school mask mandates.

As a result, stocks of the antibody treatments have mostly been going to just a few states with some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country; a spokesperson for Health and Human Services says just seven states — Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana — have accounted for 70 percent of orders of the regimen.

With the pandemic worsening, the Biden administration has directed HHS to take over the distribution of the 150,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies being shipped out each week, to make sure they're fairly allocated. That was the arrangement when the treatments first became available last year, but as vaccinations started slowing the pandemic, the distribution scheme was changed to allow states to order the stuff as it was needed. Now that the pandemic is again becoming a crisis in multiple states at once, the feds took back control to ensure no states took more than their fair share.

This is where we get to our headline. Yesterday, Bible-quoting ghoul Sen. Marco Rubio took to the Twitter box to complain that the Biden administration's policy change to ensure fair distribution of a scarce medication is naught but playing politics with the pandemic!

Let's all just bask in the irony of a big Trump supporter complaining about the appearance of federal policy being used as "partisan payback," not that there's anything to back that up.

True, Joe Biden has not been happy with red state governors who seem determined to block efforts to actually stop the spread of the virus. And Politico notes that

administration officials have bristled in recent weeks over the southern states' reliance on expensive treatments paid for by the federal government — even as several governors have attacked Biden over his attempts to boost the vaccination rate and tamp down caseloads. [...]

"It's where the surges are," said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials, of the rising demand for monoclonal antibody drugs. "And where they haven't been successful with the other mitigation efforts."

That said, there's no evidence at all that the new distribution plan is anything other than what HHS has stated: a measure to make sure there are enough doses of the treatment to go around, as a spox for HHS explained.

"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," the spokesperson said. "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."

To help meet the demand, the administration also announced this week that it's ordering additional doses of the antibody treatments, and has already increased weekly shipments from 100,000 doses to 150,000. Man, that Joe Biden sure is punishing his critics just like Donald Trump did, except for how he isn't.

Politico notes that

it will likely take several weeks to expand the pipeline for the treatments, with state officials saying they expect the new limits to remain in place at through at least October.

"Nobody was really using monoclonal antibodies until a few weeks ago. Then there was just this surge of use," Plescia said. "There is now clearly a shortage."

In conclusion, Marco Rubio is wrong and a lying hack, the end.

[Politico / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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