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FDA issues emergency authorization of blood plasma treatment for COVID-19

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iStock/JONGHO SHIN

(LOS ANGELES) — After President Donald Trump accused the the Food and Drug Administration for standing in the way of testing new vaccines to treat COVID-19, the FDA handed the president a victory by issuing an emergency order allowing blood plasma from those previously infected with the virus to treat hospitalized patients.

The treatment, known as convalescent plasma, will use the yellow liquid isolated from blood donations from those who have recovered from the virus and use the antibodies found in the plasma to treat those still struggling against COVID-19.

While the treatment has not been scientifically proven to assist in recovery, initial trials showed promising results and gave health officials a glimmer of hope.

Doctor Peter Marks, FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Director, said, “We believe that there will be enough people that will benefit from this, potentially, this being a potentially lifesaving treatment that it’s worthwhile doing.”

FDA Commissioner Doctor Stephen Hahn added, “We’re encouraged by the early promising data that we’ve seen about convalescent plasma.”  The commissioner also added that plans to issue the emergency order was not an about face following criticism from the president, adding, “This has been in the works for several weeks … We issued the EUA when we concluded the risk-benefit ratio was appropriate.”

President Trump touted the FDA’s action at a press conference on Sunday, “Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment,” adding that “I’m pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives.”

Critics maintain that the president’s insistence of calling COVID-19 the “China virus” is racist.

COVID-19 has killed over 176,000 Americans and infected almost 5.7 million people in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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