By Brandon Moseley
On Thursday, September 30, 2021, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) strongly questioned department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra about the Biden administration’s decision to cut shipments of the potentially life-saving monoclonal antibodies treatment to the state of Alabama.
"We can’t shut down Alabama, or some of these other states simply for the fact that we might not be taking as many vaccines,” Tuberville told Becerra, during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing. “We need to save people’s lives.”
There are few treatments for someone with COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine has been used with mixed results. Serum from COVID-19 survivors has been used in COVID-19 patients. Ivermectin, which is used heavily in livestock to control parasitical worms, has been used. Remdisivir has shown to have some effect on improving COVID-19 outcomes. Dr. Peter McCullough has made national headlines for his controversial protocols the treat COVID-19. The monoclonal antibodies appear to be one of the most effective treatments, but that is now being rationed by HHS.
Tuberville stressed the importance of therapeutics to treat COVID-19.
“We’re so fired up about the vaccine, and I am too – I’ve taken it,” Tuberville said. “It’s not going to keep you from getting it, most of the time – it’s going to keep you from getting real sick, and I think everybody can agree with that. We need to focus more on therapeutics – I don’t think there’s any doubt about it – and testing. I’ve talked to a lot of doctors, especially in the school systems. We need to be testing almost every day, or every few days, kids before they come. Now, they can have the virus, and if we wait until they get symptoms, they’ve had it for two days, and they’ve already been in school, and it’s been exposed.”
Dr. Jordan Vaughn along with his father owns six medical practices in Alabama employing 19 doctors. Vaughn is an outspoken proponent of using therapeutics early in the diagnosis of COVID-19 without waiting for it to worsen.
Vaughn said at a symposium on the pandemic in Birmingham in September that he has been treating patients with monoclonal antibodies immediately after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis rather than waiting for them to get sick and that he has been doing that to patients, “If you test positive whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.”
“Now, they are starting to ration monoclonal antibodies,” Vaughn said. “Why are we not treating the virus?”
“Early outpatient treatment of COVID is paramount, otherwise more people are going to seek treatment in our emergency rooms and hospitals,” Vaughn said. “If you get COVID, seek early treatment.”
“I would hope that we would not get political with this,” Tuberville told Becerra. “Red states, blue states–it shouldn’t be about that. It should be about everybody. If they need it, they get it, and we just need to be more prepared.”
Supporters of the Biden administration argue that there are three vaccines against COVID-19 on the market in Alabama being provided free of charge and if Alabamians want to avoid dying from COVID-19, they should get vaccinated and not rely on their doctors to treat them once they are sick. There is enormous debate within the medical community on whether or not therapeutics should be used to treat COVID-19 early in the diagnosis or if the physician should wait until the condition is life-threatening. For approximately 80% of persons diagnosed with the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the symptoms are mild.
When COVID-19 turns bad, it can get really bad. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, 14,612 Alabamians have already died from COVID-19. Alabama has already lost .3% of its total population – the fourth highest percent death loss in the nation. Mississippi is the worst, having lost .33% of its population to COVID-19 to this point in the global pandemic.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.