ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford’s latest monthly newsletter was problematic for me.
The Casco Township legislator wrote about her solid support for use of monocolonal antibodies to treat the Coronavirus. She even made remarks about it on the floor of the State Legislature in Lansing.
While acknowledging her husband came down with the disease last April, she spoke about the more than 25,000 Covid-19 deaths in Michigan since the pandemic began, “…there’s no doubt in my mind that better and earlier access to monoclonal antibody treatments could have prevented many of those deaths. We must do all we can to ensure patients recover more quickly…
“Since April, when my husband fell severely ill to COVID, I have been fighting for better access to monoclonal antibody treatments here in Michigan. The plan we approved today (House Bill 5523) will ensure better access to that treatment, as well as other early treatment options that may come about in the coming weeks and months.”
She mentioned vaccinations very little, likely because that doesn’t fit in with Republican Party policy orthodoxy. I have learned vaccinations are far less expensive and easier to get for us unwashed masses of working people.
Healthline has reported that monoclonal antibody injections are very costly: “The cost of Regeneron’s two-drug cocktail is $1,250 per infusion, according to Kaiser Health News. The federal government currently covers this.”
USA Today reports, “The cost of GSK’s and Vir’s monoclonal antibody costs about $2,100 per infusion. This is covered by a combination of government payments, reimbursements, and GSK’s copay program.”
OK, so the government pays for this, but the Republican Party so often has insisted on being frugal with publicly funded programs.
Healthline has indicated the cost of a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — about $20 —is also covered right now by the federal government. In other words, free to you and me.
Healthline also has reported that experts emphasize that “monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination, which offers ease of distribution and much lower cost.
“While monoclonal antibodies can start to clear the coronavirus within hours of being infused intravenously (IV) into the body, this treatment may not work for everyone. That’s why experts recommend that people get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is known to prevent severe illness and hospitalization due to the disease.”
Whiteford has said, “House Bill 5523 includes more than $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds already available to the state. The measure provides $134 million to buy and administer monoclonal antibodies and other promising treatments for COVID patients, which studies suggest reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 85 percent for COVID-positive patients. Currently, delivery is bottlenecked at short-staffed hospitals – the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan.”
To be sure, monoclonal antibody treatments are effective, especially for those who already have contracted Covid. President Donald Trump received that treatment, as did my mother-in-law. The applications proved to be life saving. But they’re expensive and should only be given to those who have come down with the disease.
Getting vaccinated is a seriously better option for three reasons — far less expensive, easier for masses of people to get them and last, but certainly not least, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I find Ms. Whiteford’s comments troubling because she is a registered nurse and should know better. Yet she took part in the rallies on behalf of the Holland restaurant owner who refused to enforce mask mandates and she voted to withhold state funding for health departments that insisted on mask mandates for school children who at the time couldn’t get vaccinations.
This is a glaring example of party loyalty “trumping” science on public health policy.