Osterholm calls new coronavirus treatment "a start"

Dr. Osterholm

President Donald Trump used the word “breakthrough” when announcing emergency authorization to treat COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma.

He also called it “encouraging,” which is closer to the stance taken by University of Minnesota infectious disease director Dr. Michael Osterholm.

“It’s a start,” Dr. Osterholm told Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning News. “I worry that while we all want to get any treatment we can to help patients, at the same time we have to make sure that they work.”

The process uses antibody-rich blood plasma taken from patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and giving it to critically ill patients.

Osterholm said this has had positive results when used soon after a patient is diagnosed with the virus.

“The data are still currently lacking from what we call a randomized controlled trial,” he said. “It’s a way to look at people who get the plasma and people who don’t, and see how much it benefitted. We’re quite a bit short on data to see if that’s the case yet.”

Osterholm said the current results are based on the testing of some 35,000 patients who’ve received transfusions.

“This study had a signal that convalescent plasma can be helpful when treating patients with COVID-19,” he said.

In a statement describing the emergency authorization of the treatment, the FDA’s chief scientist, Denise Hinton, said this should not be considered a new standard for care for patients with coronavirus.

Hinton also said more data is expected from clinical trials that are continuing in the coming months.

The Associated Press contributed content to this story.