Trump and FDA Announce New Method to Treat Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

President Donald Trump on Sunday afternoon announced his administration has authorized the use of convalescent plasma as an emergency treatment for COVID-19 patients. He cited money spent on its research, and said the method of treatment has proven to “reduce mortality [rate] by 35 percent.”

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Trump said the emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma will allow more patients to get quicker access for treatment.

“It’s had an incredible rate of success,” the president said. “This is only made possible because of Operation Warp Speed.”

The EUA of convalescent plasma is not an approved vaccine, but rather another way to treat patients and reduce the mortality rate.

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“This is a major advance in the treatment of patients,” said Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary. “It’s one new tool we’ve added to our arsenal against COVID-19”

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says convalescent plasma is the “liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus.”

The plasma contains natural proteins to help fight off the infection.

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Since there is no approved treatment for COVID-19, convalescent plasma is being investigated because some information suggests it might help some patients recover from COVID-19, the FDA website stated.

Trump said his administration sent $48 million to the Mayo Clinic to study the treatment.

Azar joined the president at the briefing along with Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On Saturday, Trump accused the FDA of “making it very difficult” for people to get tested for vaccines and therapeutics. The president tweeted that the FDA was waiting until after the presidential election in November.

“Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” Trump tweeted.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi quickly admonished the president’s accusation of the FDA as “dangerous.”

“The FDA has a responsibility to approve drugs, judging on their safety and their efficacy, not by a declaration from the White House about speed and politicizing the FDA,” Pelosi said.

Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019. The virus began infecting people inside the United States by January. By March, life as most people knew it came to a virtual stop. Most schools in the country went to online learning; only businesses deemed “essential” were allowed to stay open; sports shut down for 2-3 months; and people were asked to wear masks and also practice social distancing.

President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing about coronavirus testing in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump held Coronavirus Task Force news briefings nearly every day in the spring, and he often said the U.S. could produce a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year. The president said in early August that a vaccine “maybe far in advance of the end of the year.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has often stated he was optimistic a vaccine could be developed by either the end of 2020 or early next year.

COVID-19 has infected more than 23 million people around the world and had led to the deaths of more than 800,000 people. The United States leads the world in both positive cases (5.8 million) and deaths (180,000).

The virus was one of the main talking points at last week’s Democratic National Convention, that was held virtually.

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