The “If you love Giorgio, you’ll love Primo” version of Trump—literally, the physical manifestation of Florida as a person—Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—Mr. Anti-Mask, or #DeathSantis as he’s known on the streets—is pushing a COVID-19 antibody treatment that just so happens to be one of his top donor’s company’s biggest investments.
And get this: DeSantis isn’t just ignoring the Centers for Disease Control missives, he’s actually been flying around the state promoting the drug Regeneron, “a monoclonal antibody treatment that was used on then-President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID. The governor first began talking about it as a treatment last year,” the Associated Press reports.
Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis — $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.
It’s not unusual for hedge funds to have a wide range of investments. And BlackRock, which has primarily donated to Democratic candidates, though has also donated substantially to Republicans, has a large holding in the company — more so than Citadel.
DeSantis ramped up the call for Floridians to seek out monoclonal antibody treatments in August as coronavirus cases spiked. He’s held news conferences at treatment sites and a Tampa hospital touting the effectiveness of the drug if people receive treatment soon after testing positive.
“Early treatment with these monoclonal antibodies – Regeneron and others – have proven to radically reduce the chances that somebody ends up being hospitalized,” DeSantis said Monday at a treatment site in Orlando. “Reducing hospital admissions has got to be a top priority.”
Or they could get vaccinated or just wear a fucking mask! I hate that public safety has become a political football, yet here we are. People would rather believe a man who bastes his skin in orange shoe polish then listen to actual fucking doctors.
It isn’t that DeSantis is wrong; the drug has shown that if given within 10 days of initial symptoms, it can cut hospitalization and death by some 70 percent, but it should be a last ditch effort not a first stop.
“We definitely need treatments like monoclonal antibodies that can prevent mild disease from progressing to severe disease. Ultimately, it’s still best to prevent someone from contracting COVID-19 in the first place,” Dr. Leana Wen, public health professor at George Washington University and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, told AP. “Monoclonal antibodies are not prevention.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—another anti-masker who has now caught the coronavirus—is currently taking Regeneron treatments. If only there was a cheap preventive measure, something like a face condom, that could’ve kept him from catching the potentially life-threatening illness.
But the anti-maskers refuse, so Regeneron it is. Which, if the company’s stock price goes up, it totally helps the Citadel CEO, who just happens to be one of the Florida governor’s biggest donors.
“Claiming that there is somehow ‘corruption’ by promoting the baseless political narrative that Governor DeSantis supports Regeneron over Covid vaccines (completely false, but that is another topic) is not even logically consistent when you examine the SEC filing,” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said in an email to AP. “Citadel holds far more shares of Pfizer and Moderna than Regeneron.”
A Regeneron treatment costs more than $1,000, while a vaccine costs about $25.
“Vaccines prevent serious illness from COVID-19. But if someone who is unvaccinated gets COVID, or a vaccinated person gets a breakthrough infection, those in risk categories with comorbidities should consider getting early treatment with Regeneron. It is safe, effective, and free of charge to all patients in Florida. This should not be a political issue -– it’s about saving lives,” Pushaw said.
The problem is that DeSantis isn’t pushing the vaccine, but he is pushing the treatment that just so happens to be tremendously more expensive and benefits his donor but you already get that.
Clarification: 8/19/21, 1:37 p.m.: The story has been updated to reflect that the CEO of Citadel, and not the company itself, is a DeSantis PAC donor.