President Trump announced Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, a treatment that health experts believe could treat COVID-19.
“Today's action will dramatically expand access to this treatment,” Trump said during a news conference in the White House. “Based on the science and the data, the FDA has made the independent determination that the treatment is safe and very effective.”
The FDA announced shortly before Trump’s appearance that it hadgrantedemergency use authorization of theexperimental treatment, in which doctors take blood from a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 and whose body has antibodies that it created to fight the virus. Doctors then take the liquid part of the blood from the healthy patient, called plasma, and transfuse it into the blood of those who need treatment.
Physicians have been using convalescent plasma transfusion to treat infectious diseases for more than 100 years. It has not yet been clinically proven to treat the coronavirus disease, but the therapy has proven to be safe. The FDA said there is reason to believe the treatment could shorten recovery time and lessen the severity of the disease, adding that the potential benefits of the therapy outweigh the risk.
“We saw about a 35% better survival in the patients who benefited most from the treatment, which were patients under 80, who are not on artificial respiration,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sunday. “We dream in drug development of something like a 35% mortality reduction. This is a major advance in the treatment of patients is a major advance.”
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn added that “we're waiting for more data, we're going to continue to gather data, but this clearly meets the criteria that we've established for emergency use authorization.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the Democratic National Convention in which high-ranking Democrats said Trump has “failed miserably” to stop the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican National Convention will begin Monday, and Trump is expected to tout his administration’s progress in eliminating the coronavirus.
The coronavirus hasinfectedroughly 5.7 million people in the United States, and there have been more than 176,000 COVID-19-related deaths.