American Red Cross National Headquarters Washington D.C. July 30 3:01 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, everyone. It's a great honor. It's a magnificent building, and they do a magnificent job at the Red Cross. I'm delighted to be here to discuss the remarkable progress being made in the development of plasma. Plasma. So important. Therapies.
These therapies transfuse powerful antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat those battling the current infection that we all know so well. Plasma is one of the more delicate ways of doing things. It's had tremendous response so far — we've had. And it's an effort to accelerate — to really accelerate new therapies and further reduce mortality.
We've been able to show some tremendous things. If you notice today, it was covered very well. A lot of countries where they thought they were doing well, they're not doing well at all. They've had explosions — explosions, unfortunately.
We're joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services, who's doing a terrific job, Alex Azar. Alex — hi, Alex. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Hi, Steve. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. And I hope your wife is okay, Jerome. I know she had a little difficulty, but I'm sure she's going to be fine, right? Please give her my regards. Thank you, Jerome. Dr. Francis Collins, who everyone knows — Francis, thank you very much. NIH. And Dr. Anthony Fauci. Anthony, hi. And Deborah. Where's Deborah? Deborah? Hi, Deborah. Good job.
You know, everybody is — everybody is doing a good job. Everybody is working very hard.
I want to also thank to the CO- — CEO of American Red Cross, somebody who's done outstanding work — I've known about it for a long time — Gail McGovern. Thank you, Gail. Really, an outstanding job, too.
CEO of America's Blood Centers, Kate Fry. Hi, Kate. Thank you very much. CEO of CSL Limited, Paul Perreault. Paul, thank you very much. Great job. And CEO of LabCorp, Adam Schechter. Thank you, Adam, very much.
We've taken bold actions to give Americans access to plasma therapies. The FDA made the treatment available to patients with life-threatening infections beginning in March. We provided $48 million to the Mayo Clinic to support their expanded access program for plasma. We're providing up to $270 million to the Red Cross and America's Blood Centers for the collection of up to 360,000 units of plasma.
My administration is partnering with commercial labs, insurers, and healthcare providers to encourage those who have had the virus to donate plasma. So if you've had the virus, if you donate, it would be a terrific thing. We really need donations of the plasma. To those that have had the virus, you've gotten through it, and I guess that means you have something very special there. Right, Gail? So we would appreciate that. It would help a lot of people.
We're grateful to LabCorp for offering free antibody testing to identify people who can donate. And LabCorp has really been fantastic in a lot of ways — other ways also.
As a result of these initiatives, we've already treated nearly 50,000 patients with plasma. Roughly 2 million Americans have fully recovered from the virus. This afternoon, I'm asking these citizens to go to the Coronavirus.gov — it's Coronavirus.gov — and volunteer to donate plasma as soon as you can. We have a lot of people that would heal, would get better. As soon as you can, please.
In addition, I'm once again urging all Americans to protect the elderly, socially distance, wear a mask when you cannot avoid the crowded places. And if you can, you have to avoid crowded places. It just seems like so many things are taking place in crowded places. We don't want that. And always wash your hands — wash your hands as often as you can. Together, we'll defeat the virus, we'll defeat the invisible enemy.
I want to thank the American Red Cross. I've been a fan of the Red Cross for a long time, as you know, and we appreciate the great work that you do. Thank you very much, Gail.
And now I'd like to ask Gail to say a few words, please. Thank you.
Mr. President, thank you so much for joining us today and for shining a light on the critical need for convalescent plasma. I'm honored to be seated here with these distinguished, top medical experts who are striving to help us deal with this terrible pandemic. And I am so grateful that the American Red Cross can actually play a role in the treatment of COVID-19.
We're helping to collect units of convalescent plasma, which I've been told is showing promising results, and it's treating COVID patients. We've shipped over 24,000 units so far, and I am in awe of our donors who are donating convalescent plasma. They struggled through this disease, they came through the back end, they have precious antibodies, and hospitals are transfusing their plasma into patients that are struggling mightily with the disease themselves.
And it's a testament to the generosity of the American public. These donors have recovered from a debilitating disease, and they're willing to lend an arm to help somebody they probably will never even have the opportunity to meet. And, in fact, blood donors in general are just so generous. They are helping save someone's life, and they do it without question. And it's just an amazing, amazing thing.
Americans always step up, whether it's a pandemic or a hurricane. And it's a privilege to be able to see the generosity of the American public over and over again, whether they're volunteering, donating blood, or even providing us with financial donations.
So on behalf of the entire American Red Cross, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the people that actually recovered from COVID-19 and are giving this remarkable gift of life to help them recover as well.
And right now the demand for convalescent plasma is exceeding our collections, so we really do need people to come out and donate. In fact, over the past month, the number of orders doubled from our hospitals.
So please, please, please — I know I speak on behalf of Kate as well — consider donating plasma if you've had COVID, because you are going to do a wonderful thing. It's easy, it doesn't take a lot of time, and I can tell you that when you donate blood and you leave our blood center, you feel so great. You just feel so great about yourself because you just saved someone's life, and not a lot of people can make that claim.
So thank you again, Mr. President. We really appreciate the shout-out for convalescent plasma.
Thank you, Gail. Great job.
You're really doing something very special. Thank you.
Well, Mr. President, thank you so much for leading the effort now to get people to donate convalescent plasma. This is going to be a major national initiative in the — in the months ahead, and I want to thank the Red Cross and I want to thank America's blood banks for the work that they're doing to bring our donors in and to get this plasma.
For the — for the tens of thousands of people that have already donated plasma, thank you for what you've done. You are literally saving lives. And we need hundreds of thousands more to please come forward.
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