The coronavirus pandemic continues on within the United States with over five million confirmed cases. As the cases continue to pile up, President Trump’s administration has released an emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma. The treatment has already been used in over 70,000 cases and the benefits are promising.
Convalescent plasma refers to the injection of blood plasma from individuals that have previously recovered from the novel coronavirus. While it has shown some benefits to patients, there have been many delays in the trials. For instance, getting individuals to volunteer has been a significant obstacle. Moreover, due to the limited evidence of its efficacy, there remains a degree of skepticism surrounding the use of the plasma.
While President Trump has made the emergency authorization, the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn has stated that the treatment is not yet verified by the FDA. He continued to say that the treatment needs must meet a few more criteria and complete successful randomized clinical trials before it can be considered a safe and effective treatment for the virus.
The disconnection between the Trump Administration and the FDA is indicative of differing methods of trying to quell the spread of the coronavirus. In a statement from President Trump, he proclaimed that “We’re years ahead of approvals if we went by the speed of past administrations,” adding, “And that includes vaccines.” He continued to say that “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.”
The President has accused the FDA and other regulatory bodies of intentionally working to slow down progress. He maintains that the treatments approvals are taking a long time because of the election, and asserts that they will likely not speed up until after the election. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd,” Trump tweeted. “Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”
Despite the disagreement between officials, it is clear that treatments must be developed soon. Over 180,000 individuals have died as a result of the virus and the anticipated vaccine will likely be unavailable until 2021 as it has not completed the necessary testing. Nonetheless, it is clear that a treatment with beneficial trials should be further investigated in order to save more lives. As of now, however, all US citizens can do is wait until the science catches up.