President Donald Trump will reportedly authorize the emergency use of a convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19 on Sunday night. This comes after Trump publicly criticized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — including some specific officials — for not authorizing it themselves. According to a report by CNN, Trump will announce the emergency use authorization (EUA) in a televised White House press conference.
Two sources close to the Trump administration's coronavirus task force said the FDA has reviewed additional data to support the EUA for convalescent plasma treatment. This method uses the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 to isolate antibodies and administer them to other patients. In the past, it has shown success in treating other forms of coronavirus — particularly MERS and SARS — and has also been effective against the flu and Ebola. Scientists have been studying its application for COVID-19 since March.
A EUA is a rare process to fast-track the development and deployment of new treatments. It side-steps the usual process required to get full FDA approval. In the circumstance, the FDA is not required to consult anyone outside of the agency about its decision to issue a EUA.
Still, many prominent scientists have spoken out against the fast-tracking of convalescent plasma treatment, saying that the results so far have not been substantial enough to assure its safety. According to a report by Politico, convalescent plasma treatments have a "mixed" track record of success over the span of its existence, and so far the roughly 70,000 Americans who have received it have done so in a clinical setting.
"Let's get the trials done & if the results are life-saving, let's make it standard of care, thus benefiting hundreds of thousands to millions," tweeted former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf this week. "If not we can avoid the huge expense & effort & keep looking for best treatments."
Additionally, Trump has made it clear in his speeches and tweets that he is focused on the relation between getting a coronavirus treatment on the market and his chances at re-election. On Saturday, he erroneously claimed that the FDA was intentionally keeping treatments from moving forward in order to hurt his chances in the 2020 presidential election. He even evoked the violent conspiracy theory QAnon in his post.
Trump is expected to speak live from the White House at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday evening. He can be watched live on C-SPAN's various online platforms or on most TV news networks.