By Tony Winterburn • 24 August 2020 • 8:38
President Donald Trump announced emergency authorisation to treat Covid-19 patients with convalescent plasma calling the treatment “a breakthrough” – one of his top health officials called it “promising” and other health experts said it needs more study before it’s celebrated, however.
THE announcement on Sunday came after White House officials complained there were politically motivated delays by the Food and Drug Administration in approving a vaccine and therapeutics for the disease that they think are meant to negatively affect Trump’s re-election chances.
On the eve of the Republican National Convention, Trump put himself at the centre of the FDA‘s announcement of the authorisation at a news conference Sunday evening. The authorisation will make it easier for some patients to obtain the treatment but is not the same as having full approval from the FDA.
At a news conference on Sunday, Mr Trump said the use of convalescent plasma could reduce deaths by 35 per cent. He said: “This is what I’ve been looking forward to doing for a long time. I’m pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives.”
Blood plasma, taken from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and rich in antibodies, may provide benefits to those battling the disease. Evidence that the treatment actually works so far has not been conclusive, it is still not known when to administer it and what exact dose is required.
“The concept is very simple,” says Prof Robert Lechler, President of the British Academy of Medical Sciences. “You take blood plasma from a person who has recovered from the virus which will contain antibodies that their body has made in the process of clearing the virus, and you put this into the patient who is grappling with the virus – transferring immunity [for a transient amount of time].”
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