It is not a vaccine or a magical cure for COVID-19. The remedy unveiled by President Trump at an Aug. 23 White House press briefing, however, does make the virus less scary for those who find it so, and for those who, due to other medical issues, have good reason to be scared. Convalescent plasma has been used for a long time to treat virus infections, and, now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its use as a Coronavirus treatment.
Of course, the effort to discredit the efficacy of convalescent plasma has already begun and will likely grow to hysterical proportions, as it did when the president first touted the success of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Though doctors around the world have described their successful treatment of COVID-19 patients with HCQ, the drug has been portrayed as entirely ineffective since it got the Trump seal of approval.
The president’s haters would rather people die than see them recover with the aid of a therapeutic promoted by Trump, it appears.
What is convalescent plasma? In layman’s terms, plasma is the liquid that carries blood cells. It also carries antibodies produced by the human body when attacked by a foreign pathogen such as COVID-19. Convalescent plasma comes from those who have been infected with – and recovered from – the Coronavirus.
The Fight to Not Find a Cure
Convalescent plasma is by no means a novel idea, and the FDA has been monitoring efforts to develop plasma as a therapeutic for some months. It does seem likely that the president, who has been critical of the FDA, may have exerted some pressure to have the agency issue the EUA. Trump’s detractors may argue that he pushed the FDA into prematurely giving convalescent plasma the green light. On the other hand, this was perhaps a measure that should already have been taken, and the president finally lost patience.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows suggested as much during a Fox News interview on Sunday. Referring to the president’s recent accusations that the FDA has been dragging its feet for political reasons, Meadows said: “This president is right to call it out, and I can tell you that the announcement that’s coming today should have been made several weeks ago.”
Trials have shown that, among patients treated early with convalescent plasma, mortality rates have been significantly reduced. Of course, the same was true about HCQ but, thanks to media malpractice, the accepted wisdom, today, is that stories of the effectiveness of HCQ are nothing but the lunatic rantings of people who know nothing. Hundreds of doctors would disagree – but what do they know?
A quick scan of the news headlines reveals the inevitable; that the Trump-hating media is already dismissing all hope of an effective treatment merely because the president they hate is pushing it. From Politico: “FDA authorizes plasma treatment despite scientists’ objections.” Business Insider repeated the theme: “FDA okays unproven plasma treatment for COVID-19 after political pressure from the White House.” And, of course, from the ever-predictable New York magazine: “Scientists Concerned Over Trump’s Politicization of Plasma Treatment for COVID.”
Perhaps the president should have announced that convalescent plasma was a terrible idea. The media would, by now, have dug up a hundred medical “experts” willing to promote it as a miracle cure.
What next, then, in this ridiculous fight against a virus that, to healthy people, is nothing more than a minor inconvenience? The plasma treatment does not have FDA approval. The EUA merely makes it more easily obtainable. Nobody is claiming that Sunday’s announcement marks the end of COVID-19, but it is another weapon in the fight to lessen the alleged danger posed by the virus. Of course, any measure that makes it less easy to scare people into locking themselves in their homes is seen, by some, as a threat. Liberty is a dangerous idea.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.