Bloomberg columnist Tim O’Brien was called out for spreading misinformation about Florida’s state government providing free treatment for residents battling COVID-19.
On Monday, O’Brien posted a tweet railing against Gov. Ron DeSantis, because the Florida Republican was promoting monoclonal antibody treatment centers for citizens infected with the coronavirus.
“This can’t be said enough: The regeneron treatment DeSantis is pushing cost at least $1,250 per dose. Covid-19 vaccines cost $0,” O’Brien tweeted.
O’Brien has been railing against DeSantis’ decision since last week when the governor announced the Regeneron treatment for Florida patients.
FLORIDA GOV. DESANTIS DEPLOYS COVID-19 ANTIBODY ‘RAPID RESPONSE UNIT’
“The regeneron treatments DeSantis is pushing cost at least $1,250 per dose. That’s less expensive than Gilead’s remdesivir treatment, but Paul and his wife probably know that because, well, stock trading. Anyway: Covid-19 vaccines cost $0,” O’Brien tweeted.
However, O’Brien’s tweets are misleading because in a push to reduce hospitalizations, DeSantis announced the Regeneron would be free to Florida patients.
DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw fired back at O’Brien’s tweet shortly afterwards writing “Report this disinformation. The Regeneron treatment is $0 for Florida patients; same as the vaccines.”
Republican communicator Matt Whitlock also called out O’Brien’s tweet for spreading misinformation regarding the treatment.
“You’re incorrect and should delete this. @TwitterSupport should suspend this misinformation— imagine if it prevented someone from getting care they needed because they didn’t know it was actually free to them,” Whitlock wrote.
Regeneron, the company behind the monoclonal antibodies treatment, also responded to O’Brien on Twitter by informing him the federal government had also made the treatment free to patients.
“Hi @TimOBrien- please know that the U.S. government has made our investigational antibody cocktail for #COVID19 available for free to patients who qualify under Emergency Use Authorization parameters (just like the vaccines are),” the company wrote.
The tweet included a link to Regeneron’s previous announcement on the treatment on Thursday.
“After all the hard work, the most important message we want to share is to please get vaccinated – but if you get sick and qualify under the FDA’s emergency authorization, then get TREATED,” Regeneron wrote.
Several media outlets have criticized DeSantis’ treatment center despite its authorization by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“The suggestion that Governor DeSantis is expanding access to a lifesaving COVID-19 treatment (with demonstrated efficacy in preventing hospitalization and death) for political or financial reasons, is both offensive and baseless,” DeSantis’ office told Fox News.
“The conspiracy theories about Regeneron are particularly dangerous because they might discourage some Democrats – the primary audience for this anti-DeSantis narrative – from getting a proven treatment that can save their lives. Those who create and promote this misinformation are unethical; the health and well-being of their own followers doesn’t matter to them if they see an opportunity to attack DeSantis.”
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On Thursday, DeSantis opened the first rapid response unit for antibody treatment in Jacksonville, Florida. State officials also announced plans to possibly add additional locations throughout the state to alleviate hospital demands.
While announcing the unit’s opening, DeSantis also promoted vaccinations, adding that treatments should be used in tangent with vaccines.
“I don’t think it’s an either or,” DeSantis said. “We have people in society that are not vaccinated. We also have people who are vaccinated who are still testing positive. Either way, if you get in that situation, particularly in these high-risk categories, this should be your stop.”