Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this week said COVID-19 vaccines are not preventing omicron infections and pushed for more monoclonal antibody treatments, The Palm Beach Post reports.
"With omicron, the vaccines are not stopping the spread. That’s clear," he said Monday at Broward Health Medical Center. "If you look at who’s being infected, vaccinated, boosted, they’re all being infected."
"It didn’t stop it," he continued. "It doesn’t provide sterilizing immunity, and I think that you just have to be honest with people about that."
When told it sounded like he was giving up on faith in the vaccine, DeSantis replied, "No, no, no."
The omicron variant is fueling a record-breaking surge of cases across the country, and hitting vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike.
Florida is in the top three states for per capita virus spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeSantis also criticized President Joe Biden, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for previous statements about vaccinations protecting people from infection and spreading the virus.
Those were "factually incorrect statements," he told reporters Wednesday, the news outlet reported. Hi statements applied before the omicron variant’s arrival.
"I think it’s much better to just be realistic about what the data is telling us, in terms of the utility for reducing severity versus trying to claim that it’s somehow sterilizing, like a measles vaccine or something like that," DeSantis said.
DeSantis' critics have accused his administration of withholding COVID-19 data, but the governor has argued the focus is on the wrong data.
DeSantis said he will now ask hospitals to start reporting the number of people being treated for COVID-19 instead of just the number of infected patients. In some hospitals, a majority of positive patients are there for other reasons but are incidentally testing positive.
"I’m fine saying, Here’s everyone who’s COVID-positive regardless of treatment. But then also say, Here are the people that we’re actually treating for COVID, because that gives us a better indication of the clinical consequences for something like omicron," DeSantis said.
DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have already announced a plan to release testing guidelines to stress the importance of prioritizing high-risk individuals, the news outlet reported.
Releasing the guidelines would help address the people who are "whipped up to be afraid of omicron," according to the administration.
There won’t be any mandates around those test kits, he said. "If you want to go into the drugstore and buy 15 tests for yourself to have, you’re free to do that," DeSantis said.
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