President Trump announced on Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorization to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from the virus.Joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn for what he called a “truly historic” announcement, Trump described the treatment as safe and effective.
Convalescent plasma, Hahn explained, is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies an individual develops in response to an infection and can be given to patients currently fighting that virus. He said this treatment has long been a part of the infectious disease arsenal.It has already been in use for COVID-19 for a number of months: The Mayo Clinic has run an “expanded access program” for convalescent plasma since March, and more than 70,000 people have received the treatment.
Antibody Drugs Advancing to Fill Covid-19 Treatment Gap
A kind of drug that takes a page from a body’s natural antibody defenses may be able to give many people early protection against the coronavirus, ahead of vaccines.Few treatments so far have been shown to be effective against Covid-19, and even then, only in hospitalized patients. Potential vaccines, meanwhile, are probably months away from completing testing and becoming available to the general public.
Researchers and health officials express hope certain drugs, known as monoclonal antibodies and in testing by companies including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co., will fill the breach.“There is a need for safe therapies to be given early in disease and monoclonal antibodies are paramount among them,” said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci. “I’m very anxious to see what the results are.”