Trump Announces Emergency Authorization for COVID-19 Plasma Treatment After Attacking FDA

President Donald Trump touted the authorization as part of his administration's "Operation Warp Speed" to find treatments

Donald Trump at the White House
President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump officially authorized the emergency use of convalescent plasma to help treat COVID-19 patients in the United States.

During a briefing on Sunday, the eve of the Republican National Convention, Trump, 74, claimed the "breakthrough" treatment will "dramatically expand access" and touted the authorization as part of his administration's "Operation Warp Speed" to find treatments, including a vaccine, for the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the convalescent plasma treatment uses blood plasma, which is rich in antibodies and taken from those who have recovered from the virus, to provide benefits to those battling with the disease.

Also during Sunday's briefing, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said "scientists have concluded that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is safe and shows promising efficacy, thereby meeting the criteria for an emergency use authorization."

However, clinical trials have yet to prove whether plasma can help patients battle the coronavirus. Several top health officials — including White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci — have raised concerns about the data on blood plasma studies.

Recently, Trump reacted angrily to the Food and Drug Administration's decision to hold emergency authorization for convalescent plasma treatment until more data is reviewed.

"The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!"

Trump also spoke about convalescent plasma therapy during a White House briefing last week. "I hear great things about it ... that’s all I can tell you," he said, according to CNBC and CNN. "It could be a political decision because you have a lot of people over there who don’t want to rush things because they want to do it after Nov. 3, and you’ve heard that one before."

Trump has also claimed, without evidence, that the convalescent plasma has helped more than 50 percent of coronavirus patients that received the treatment.

According to CNN, more than 60,000 people in the U.S. have been treated with convalescent plasma.

The U.S. currently has the most COVID-19 cases of any other country in the world, with 5.6 million confirmed cases as of Sunday and at least 176,400 deaths, according to the New York Times' database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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