President Trump is expected to announce on Sunday evening a “major therapeutic breakthrough” on the novel coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted.
McEnany tweeted late Saturday the president will hold a press conference on Sunday “concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus.” She added that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn would attend the event.
No other details were provided for the briefing slated to start at 5:30 p.m.
Officials familiar with the situation told Bloomberg News and The Washington Post that the president will announce an emergency authorization for a new treatment involving blood plasma donated from people who recovered from COVID-19.
The treatment, convalescent plasma, has been given to more than 70,000 patients as part of an expanded access program from the FDA and the Mayo Clinic, officials told the Post.
The authorization will make it easier for COVID-19 patients to obtain convalescent plasma, which the president has promoted. The effectiveness for treating coronavirus has not been proven although it has appeared promising, according to the news outlets.
Earlier in the day, Trump said that the FDA was “making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics.”
“Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd,” he tweeted, referring to the election.
“Most focus on speed and saving lives!” he added, tagging Hahn.
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) later labeled those comments “very dangerous.”
“The FDA has a responsibility to approve drugs, judging on their safety and their efficacy, not by a declaration from the White House about speed and politicizing the FDA,” Pelosi said during a rare Saturday press briefing in the Capitol.
“This was a very dangerous statement on the part of the president,” she added. “Even for him, it went beyond the pale in terms of how he would jeopardize the health and well-being of the American people.”
Trump’s comments came ahead of Monday’s start to the Republican National Convention, where he will once again be nominated as the GOP presidential candidate.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said late last month that he was “cautiously optimistic” a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of the year and widely distributed to Americans in 2021.
Several vaccine candidates are currently in clinical trials, and some look promising at providing a level of protection against COVID-19.
Hahn earlier this month pledged that the U.S. would not “cut corners” in its race to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
“Let me assure you that we will not cut corners,” Hahn told the American Medical Association in a video briefing. “All of our decisions will continue to be based on good science and the same careful deliberative processes we have always used when reviewing medical products.”
The U.S. has recorded approximately 5.7 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and more than 176,000 related deaths.
This report was updated at 3:08 p.m.
Originally published: 2020-08-23 10:39:14