In his presscon last Aug. 23, Trump announced the USFDA’s emergency use approval of convalescent plasma as COVID-19 cure; hailing it as a major breakthrough. . The announcement came after Trump accused the agency of slow-walking the assessment of coronavirus cures and vaccines, but was nevertheless appeased when the USFDA granted approval of convalescent plasma for emergency treatment of COVI-19 patients.
Scientists and medical professionals in the scientific community had reacted negatively to Trump’s breakthrough description of the convalescent plasma, as that is not the case. Moreover, many have reservations about the efficiency of plasma use as treatment for COVID-19.
Contrary to Trump’s claim that the USFDA’s emergency use approval was based on scientific data supporting the safety and efficiency of plasma, the agency had merely based its plasma approval on some Mayo Clinic studies that did not include scientific requirements for proper controls and randomizations.
What is Convalescent Plasma and Why the Science Community Does Not Recommend It as Treatment for the Current Pandemic
Convalescent plasma as the science experts explain is old school treatment that was in use to fight the outbreak of epidemics prior to the 1918 flu. Plasma refers to the blood taken from COVID-19 patients who recovered, as they already contain antibodies that helped in fighting the virus.
When administered as emergency use on patients critically ill with coronavirus disease, it is theoretically believed that the convalescent plasma can help the patient’s body produce additional antibodies that can strengthen their immune system
However, the transfer of convalescent plasma can only be recommended as a remedy for worst cases of COVID-19 infections. The World Health Organization gives caution that despite more than 70 clinical studies worldwide, the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 has not yet been clinically proven.
Why the Scientific Community is Skeptical about the Mayo Clinic Findings on Plasma Use
The Trump Administration’s basis in pushing the USFDA to approve emergency use of plasma is said to be largely based on a report recently released by Mayo Clinic. The report said that the results of the Mayo study show that giving plasma to COVID-19 patients within 3 days of hospitalization, had lowered the hospital’s death rate by 3.2 %.
The authors of the Mayo Clinic report said that plasma is safe, but had added that on its own, the findings do not provide any proof that convalescent plasma is effective as treatment for COVID-19. Moreover, the study is still subject to peer-review, aside from the fact that Mayo Clinic’s findings lacked data based on randomization and controls.
Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told The Washington Post that the Mayo Clinic studies are merely exploratory analyses that do not prove anything. To declare the result as a medical breakthrough, jeopardizes possibilities of ever getting the truth.
Prior to the USFDA’s approval for the emergency use of plasma, top science experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, hard urged the agency to reconsider. They consider the Mayo Clinic results as relatively weak due to the lack of robust data that can be derived from randomized control trials.