President Trump is hosting a press conference today to present a breakthrough in the US handling of the coronavirus. It was first announced yesterday by the President’s Press Secretary, with the official time later shifted backward by a half hour.
Precisely what the nature of the news might be has been a source of speculation. Rumors are moving through Trump’s base of hydroxychloroquine being made available as an over-the-counter medication, of the highly dubious drug oleandrin being encouraged for use as a treatment, and of an acceptance of an incompletely-tested vaccine from Russia.
The woes of HCQ have been repeatedly covered here, and the nation which has used it as a primary defense and curative for COVID-19, Brazil, ranks among the worst in the world both for new cases and for deaths. Oleandrin tests were recently halted by the U.S. military because of negative results, as cited by Forbes. The risks of accepting medications which have not been fully tested, particularly from countries which count themselves among our enemies, are obvious.
The Washington Post, on the other hand, is reporting that the announcement will be about the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment with a concrete measure of success. This would have the benefit of being absolutely true, and would also reap for Trump the bonus of easy overstatement. People who are getting such treatment are typically among the most serious cases, and typically continue to have severe issues for months after they are no longer in danger of immediate death… but they have shown a much higher survival rate. By touting the survival and downplaying lingering effects, Trump can make the treatment seem even more effective than it is. At issue would be the availability and the treatment of the effort as a “breakthrough”, because convalescent plasma has been in use for months as a treatment; it’s been the subject of a major push by the American Red Cross, and is one reason why blood donation centers have been conducting free antibody testing on all donations since June.
The timing of the announcement, leading into the RNC, is also highly suspect; any statements made – particularly if they are related to a topic which is not one of the three mentioned above – will require time to investigate; during the span between the initial announcement and any correction, great success will be presumed by the President. This will likely be used as an excuse to speak repeatedly during the RNC about cures and miraculous turnarounds in the American infection and mortality rates, without actually diminishing caseload growth or deaths.
An actual breakthrough is possible as well… but extraordinarily unlikely, as even so much as promising rumors of such have a tendency to spread through both the medical community and the economic community before making their way to the political field.
All of this is speculation, though, albeit speculation based on history, medicine, human nature and a pattern of behavior. What he actually says is available here, for anyone who wishes to watch it: