Trump’s or­der au­tho­rizes plasma treat­ment for COVID-19.

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY JONATHAN LEMIRE & MIKE STOBBE

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sun­day an­nounced emer­gency au­tho­riza­tion to treat COVID-19 pa­tients with con­va­les­cent plasma — a move he called “a break­through,” one of his top health of­fi­cials called “promis­ing” and other health ex­perts said needs more study be­fore it’s cel­e­brated.

The an­nounce­ment 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.

Trump put him­self at the cen­ter of the FDA’s an­nounce­ment of the au­tho­riza­tion at a news con­fer­ence Sun­day evening. The au­tho­riza­tion makes it eas­ier for some pa­tients to ob­tain the treat­ment but is not the same as full FDA ap­proval.

The blood plasma, taken from pa­tients who have re­cov­ered from the coro­n­avirus and rich in an­ti­bod­ies, may pro­vide ben­e­fits to those bat­tling the dis­ease. But the ev­i­dence so far has not been con­clu­sive about whether it works.

In a let­ter de­scrib­ing the emer­gency au­tho­riza­tion, the chief sci­en­tist for the FDA, Denise Hin­ton, said: “COVID-19 con­va­les­cent plasma should not be con­sid­ered a new stan­dard of care for the treat­ment of pa­tients with COVID-19” and added “ad­di­tional data will be forth­com­ing.”

But the tim­ing al­lowed Trump to head into his con­ven­tion with mo­men­tum. He and aides billed it as a “ma­jor” devel­op­ment. Dur­ing Sun­day’s 18-minute press con­fer­ence, Trump said he thought there had been a “log­jam” at the FDA over grant­ing the emer­gency au­tho­riza­tion. He al­leged there are peo­ple at the FDA “that can see things be­ing held up . . . and that’s for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.”

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