Governor DeSantis is being criticized again, this time for following the Biden administration’s lead and “promoting” the use of monoclonal antibody treatments in the state of Florida.
As far as I can see, there are two constituent parts to this criticism, neither of which makes much sense. The first part is that DeSantis’s interest in monoclonal antibody treatments is somehow corrupt. This is extremely silly, and it has been debunked here and elsewhere for the conspiratorial nonsense that it is. The second part is that, by setting up mass-treatment sites, the administration has in some way “given up” on the vaccine. This is also silly, but I think it is worth explaining why, because the answer has broader implications for how we should look at the issue of COVID-19, and, indeed, for how we should think about our political challenges more generally.
Implicit in the idea that Governor DeSantis is “pushing” monoclonal antibody treatments is the idea that he is doing so as an “alternative” to pushing vaccines. And implicit in that idea is the idea that DeSantis is omnipotent — or, at least, that he could be if he wanted to be.
But he’s not.
As a matter of elementary fact, it is not even remotely correct to suggest that DeSantis has been lukewarm on vaccines. But, even if it were, the idea that he would be able to cajole his state into 100 percent uptake would remain a ridiculous pipe dream. The harsh truth here is that a good number of Americans are simply not going to take the vaccine, irrespective of what incentives you throw their way. For whatever reason, they don’t want to do it, and they won’t. It doesn’t matter that it works. It doesn’t matter that it’s free. It doesn’t matter that, rationally speaking, one is far better off accepting the risks associated with the inoculation than the risks associated with contracting COVID-19. From millions of people, the answer is going to be a hard “No,” and there’s nothing anyone else will be able to do about it. Accepting that doesn’t suggest complicity in anti-vaccine propaganda; it shows a willingness to accept reality.
This being so, governors such as DeSantis have a choice. They can stick solely to pushing the vaccine, in the hope that they will finally break through to the recalcitrant; or they can keep pushing the vaccine and develop a plan for those who steadfastly refuse to take it (or who do get it, but still get sick). If the aim here is to save lives, rather than to judge people’s worth as citizens based on their willingness to take the vaccine, it seems pretty obvious that the latter course is the right one.
Yes, even in Florida.
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