U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions during a briefing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at the White House in Washington on August 11, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he was "surprised" to learn that the Food and Drug Administration has banned the provision of an experimental blood treatment emergency for coronavirus patients, saying it may be politically motivated.
"I hear great things about it … that's all I can tell you," Trump said during a White House press briefing about convalescent plasma therapy. "It could be a political decision because there are a lot of people over there who don't want to rush because they want to do it after November 3rd, and you've heard that before."
The FDA reportedly suspended its approval for the emergency use of convalescent plasma last week after a number of senior health officials, including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Francis Collins, previously appointed to head the National Institutes of Health, President Barack Obama expressed concern about possible treatment data, according to the New York Times in 2009.
The experimental treatment uses the blood of recovered coronavirus patients who have built antibodies to the diseases and infuses it into people with Covid-19 to prevent serious illness, according to the Mayo Clinic, which is conducting studies on the treatment.
"People are dying and we should have it approved if it's good," Trump said. "And I hear it's good, I've heard from people at the FDA that it's good." Trump said he would "review" the report after the press conference.
While there are currently no FDA-approved drugs or vaccines for the coronavirus, the administration has issued emergency clearance to remove unapproved products used to treat coronavirus patients. An FDA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The National Institute of Health's treatment guidelines, last updated July 17, state that "not enough data" is available to support convalescent plasma as a Covid-19 treatment, despite thousands of patients in the US receiving treatment clinical trials received.
However, Trump said at the news conference that he had heard success rates for convalescent plasma "well over 50%" and that the White House would encourage use of the therapy when the "numbers are as good" as he hears.
"I don't want delays. I don't want people to die," said Trump.