TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday to discuss the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments in the fight against COVID-19.

The governor spoke at Tampa General Hospital’s Global Emerging Diseases Institute with TGH CEO John Couris about the efficacy of the treatments for COVID-19 patients.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-produced molecules that act as substitute antibodies, according to the FDA. The substitute antibodies can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells.

“This is a therapy that is effective, but this is a therapy that is less known. This is a therapy that needs to be taken advantage of and Tampa General Hospital, USF and our private practice physicians are using it very successfully on positive COVID-19 patients,” Couris said during the news conference.

The governor said the antibodies have been used for almost all of 2021 but haven’t gotten much attention.

“The results have been very positive, but the key is having patients receiving it in time, early enough in the infection to neutralize the virus,” he said. “They provide your body an ability to fight back against the virus and results from the trials were a 70% reduction in hospitalization or death.”

Doctors in attendance at the news conference Thursday also stressed the importance of vaccination in preventing hospitalization, death and long-term COVID symptoms.

Couris said 85% of the patients at Tampa General currently are unvaccinated. The 15% that are vaccinated, he said, are already immunosuppressed.

As of Thursday morning, Couris said, TGH has 136 COVID patients. He added that there are 54 ICU patients, 13 of which are on ventilators. He also noted that the hospital’s COVID situation, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is very fluid.

“We admitted 22 patients within the last 24 hours but we also discharged 15 patients,” he said. “The average length of stay for a patient in a med-surge COVID unit, not in the ICU, is five and a half days. The average length of stay for a patient in our ICUs is a little over 14 days.”