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Blood plasma looked like a promising covid-19 treatment. Then Trump got involved.


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Dec 3, 2017
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The president’s politicized rollout of a plasma authorization triggered a backlash, disrupting a business coalition’s carefully honed message.

A roster of celebrities including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson endorsed it. A corporate coalition led by Microsoft rallied tens of thousands of recovered coronavirus patients to donate their blood plasma, rich in antibodies, to help treat others. Federal taxpayers bankrolled the initiative with at least $340 million.

But when President Trump politicized and overhyped his administration’s authorization last month of convalescent plasma to treat covid-19, he spawned confusion about the treatment and triggered a political backlash that specialists say has stifled an expected spike in demand.

Now leaders of the effort to expand use of convalescent plasma are scrambling to reassure the public that the treatment does have merit, while fending off unfavorable comparisons to Trump’s previous pet coronavirus treatment, hydroxychloroquine. Under similar pressure from Trump, the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of hydroxychloroquine early in the pandemic only to withdraw the order in June when rigorous clinical trials proved the drug was ineffective.

Doctors and proponents of convalescent plasma treatment say the comparisons to hydroxychloroquine are both unfair and inappropriate. They say plasma with high levels of coronavirus-fighting antibodies holds promise and is safe, unlike hydroxychloroquine, which poses a risk of fatal cardiac events.

“It’s a real shame that it has gotten politicized the way it has. The comparisons to hydroxychloroquine are unjustified because they are very different products and the safety data is very different,” said Kate Fry, chief executive of America’s Blood Centers, a coalition of nonprofit blood donor banks that has the largest government contract to gather plasma from recovered coronavirus patients.
Want to screw something up? Get Trump involved for political reasons.
Want to screw something up? Get Trump involved for political reasons.

You can't blame President Trump just because people go apesh!t when he talks about something.
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