Trump to announce emergency authorization

Trump to announce emergency authorization of convalescent plasma as ‘breakthrough’ covid-19 treatment

Experts say the blood product is probably beneficial but not a game changer.

President Trump is expected to announce later Sunday that the FDA has authorized the use of convalescent plasma to treat covid-19 patients. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
President Trump is expected to announce later Sunday that the FDA has authorized the use of convalescent plasma to treat covid-19 patients. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

By Josh DawseyLaurie McGinleyCarolyn Y. Johnson and Seung Min KimAugust 23, 2020 at 12:05 p.m. MDT

On the eve of the Republican National Convention where President Trump hopes to revive his flagging political fortunes, he will announce the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for covid-19, a treatment that already has been given to more than 70,000 patients, according to officials familiar with the decision.

In a tweet late Saturday night, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the announcement at 5:30 p.m. Sunday involved “a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China virus.” Officials confirmed on Sunday the treatment is convalescent plasma; they spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue. The White House declined to comment.

Many scientists and physicians believe that convalescent plasma might provide some benefit but is far from a breakthrough. It is rich in antibodies that could be helpful in fighting the coronavirus, but the evidence so far has not been conclusive about whether it works, when to administer it and what dose is needed. On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the blood product — derived from patients who have survived covid-19 — is “probably beneficial” for covid-19 patients. The issuance of an emergency authorization would make it easier to get in some settings. But he also said it already is widely available, so the change would be “incremental.”AD

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