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Trump to Announce COVID-19 'Breakthrough'

The FDA plans to approve 'convalescent plasma' treatments
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2020 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump plans to announce the FDA's approval of a COVID-19 treatment Sunday night—but whether it's big news or hot air remains open to debate, the Washington Post reports. The treatment is blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 victims. More than 70,000 patients have already received it, and there's evidence it lowers death rates. But the Trump administration's praise of the treatment—including the phrase "major therapeutic breakthrough"—is getting a dose of cold water from medical experts. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation that the antibody-rich product is "probably beneficial" for people with COVID-19 but is already "widely available," so FDA approval will make an "incremental" difference.

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A New York City specialist went so far as to tell USA Today that plasma "has not yet been shown to be effective in COVID-19." On the bright side, STAT reports that plasma is being widely tested and got a moderate thumbs-up from the Mayo Clinic, which saw a small but noticeable impact on COVID-19 death rates. But that study's lack of a placebo group made the results less clear. There's also intense political pressure on the FDA amid a fiery federal election. "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 Saturday. "Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!" (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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