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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has touted a Covid-19 antibody treatment that a top donor’s company has invested millions of dollars in.
DeSantis has flown across the state promoting Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment used on then-President Donald Trump after testing positive for Covid-19, reports the Associated Press. The governor first started talking about it last year.
Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, owns $ 15.9 million in shares in Regeneron Pharmaceutical. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin donated $ 10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis – $ 5.75 million in 2018 and $ 5 million last April.
The AP reports that it is not uncommon for hedge funds to have a wide range of investments. BlackRock, which has donated primarily to Democratic candidates but also significantly to Republicans, has a large stake in the company – more so than Citadel.
DeSantis urged Floridians to look for monoclonal antibody treatments in August as coronavirus cases increased. He has held press conferences at treatment centers and a hospital in Tampa touting the drug’s effectiveness in treating patients shortly after testing positive.
“Early treatment with these monoclonal antibodies – Regeneron and others – has been shown to radically reduce the chances of someone being hospitalized,” DeSantis said Monday at a treatment center in Orlando. “Reducing hospital admissions must be a top priority.”
Experts agree with him. The drugs, when given within 10 days of the onset of symptoms, have been shown to reduce hospitalization and death rates by about 70%.
“We definitely need treatments like monoclonal antibodies that can prevent a mild illness from progressing into a serious illness. Ultimately, it is still best to prevent someone from contracting Covid-19 in the first place, ”said Dr. Leana Wen, Professor of Public Health at George Washington University and former Baltimore Health Commissioner. “Monoclonal antibodies are not prevention.”
DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said Citadel has far bigger investments in Moderna and Pfizer, which make Covid-19 vaccines.
“Vaccines prevent serious illnesses caused by Covid-19. But if someone who isn’t vaccinated gets Covid, or a vaccinated person gets a breakthrough infection, those in risk categories with comorbidities should consider early treatment with Regeneron. It’s safe, effective, and free for all Florida patients. This shouldn’t be a political issue – it’s about saving lives, ”said Pushaw.
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