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Trump announces emergency authorization for convalescent plasma – calling it a ‘breakthrough for coronavirus treatment

DONALD Trump has announced the emergency authorization for convalescent plasma to be used to treat coronavirus patients, calling it a “major therapeutic breakthrough” for COVID-19.

The president revealed the authorization at a news conference Sunday in the White House Press Briefing Room.

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The Food and Drug Administration issued the emergency use authorization for plasma, which should make it easier for some coronavirus patients to try the experimental treatment.

The authorization is based on early data from a trial being run at by the Mayo Clinic in which 70,000 coronavirus patients are being treated using plasma.

Data returned from around half the patients suggests a lower death rate for those who take the plasma within three days of diagnosis.

The announcement came one day after Trump accused the FDA of being part of the “deep state” – and accused staff at the agency of holding up vaccine testing until after the election. 

According to the FDA: “Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2.

“COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus.

“Antibodies are proteins that might help fight the infection.”

The blood plasma may offer benefits people battling coronavirus.

Trump praised the announcement as “historic.”

The FDA’s action “will dramatically expand access to this treatment,” Trump said.

He said the move was only made possible by Operation Warp Speed.

“Operation Warp Speed aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures),” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The President urged Americans who have recovered from COVID-19 to consider donating their plasma.

Clinical studies have shown that the convalescent plasma treatment is proven to reduce mortality by 35 percent, official at the breifing said.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn spoke after Trump about the “promising data” they’ve seen about plasma.

He added: “The data from studies conducted this year shows that plasma from patients who’ve recovered from COVID-19 has the potential to help treat those who are suffering from the effects of getting this terrible virus.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar celebrated the announcement as a “milestone achievement in President Trump’s efforts to save lives from COVID-19.”

The convalescent plasma was found to be most successful for patients who received treatment within three days of getting a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Patients under 80-years-old and not under artificial respiration benefitted most from the treatment, Azar said.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted about the announcement on Saturday evening.

McEnany used the phrase “China virus,” which is one of Trump terms for Covid-19.

On Saturday Trump bizarrely accused the FDA of being part of the “deep state” in an early morning Twitter rant, despite the head of the agency, Dr Hahn, being a Trump appointee.

Human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine are currently being carried out around the world in a bid to stamp out the pandemic, which has killed 800,000 people worldwide so far, including 174,000 Americans.

No vaccine has yet been produced that has passed all the safety checks necessary to roll it out in the general population. 

But Trump has claimed the FDA was trying to block efforts to immunize Americans until after the November election where his handling of the pandemic is a key point of discussion.

He tweeted: “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.

“Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”

Trump followed up on the tweet with another referring to the FDA’s decision to revoke emergency authorisation of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treating COVID-19 because it was “unlikely to be effective”.

But he claimed: “Many doctors and studies disagree with this!”

Trump vowed earlier in August that a vaccine would possibly be ready by the date of the presidential election, or “right around that time”.

His administration has pre-ordered hundreds of millions of doses from companies developing vaccines.

But Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top virus expert and member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, has cautioned against rushing the process after Russian claims they have already produced a safe vaccine.

A safe vaccine is expected to be ready at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 at the earliest.

Dr Fauci said: “We have to be careful when you hear from Russia or China or anyplace else that they have a vaccine that they know works.

“They may have a product that they’re willing to take the risk to give it to people without necessarily showing yet that it’s effective or that it’s safe.”

The death toll from the coronavirus in the US passed 173,000 this week, while total cases exceeded 5.5million.

Most of the current deaths are being recorded in Arizona, Florida, California and Texas.

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