MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) -- As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criss-crosses the state opening monoclonal antibody treatment centers using Regeneron as a post-exposure prevention for COVID-19, he is also being criticized because one of his top donors is a Regeneron investor.
According to the Associated Press, filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission show Citadel, a Chicago-based hedge fund, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as well as options to buy its stock.
Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee that supports DeSantis. He also donated $5.75 million in 2018 and $5 million last April.
Citadel's investment in Regeneron is a tiny fraction of its overall $39 billion in investments, but if the stock price were to go up, Citadel would benefit. DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw points out that Citadel has far greater investments in Moderna and Pfizer, which manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
But the relationship has generated a buzz on social media, as Democrats question the relationship.
"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," Pushaw said in an email. "Citadel holds far more shares of Pfizer and Moderna than Regeneron."
DeSantis announced on Wednesday the opening of another monoclonal antibody treatment center at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines. Another site is opening on August 21 at Tropical Park in Southwest Miami-Dade. The state plans to have 21 open by next week.
Experts say the drug is an effective treatment for COVID-19 if people receive treatment soon after testing positive.
It helps keep people out of overcrowded hospitals, but experts say vaccines, not treaments for people after they get sick, are the best way to do that.
The Regeneron drugs, when given within 10 days of initial symptoms, have been shown to cut rates of hospitalization and death by roughly 70%. The vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. have been proven in large, real-world studies to be 95% effective against hospitalization.
"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 federal government is paying for the monoclonal antibody treatments and patients aren't being charged for the antibody cocktail.
The Citadel CEO, a billionaire, has donated tens of millions of dollars to other conservative candidates and political committees across the country. He was raised in Florida and is building an oceanfront mansion near Trump's Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort.
Citadel declined to comment.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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