Andy Cohen slams FDA rule preventing him from helping coronavirus patients
One of the most promising treatments for COVID-19 patients is using plasma from survivors to give antibodies to those who are currently hospitalized with the disease.
"I've got a bit of a rant so please indulge me," Cohen said on Thursday's Watch What Happens Live. "After recovering from the coronavirus, I wanted to see if there was something that I could do to help people who were infected. I signed up for a program for COVID-19 survivors where you could donate plasma, which is rich in antibodies, to those still battling the virus. I was told that due to antiquated and discriminatory guidelines by the FDA to prevent HIV, that I am ineligible to donate blood because I'm a gay man."
On April 2, the FDA revised its waiting period rules governing blood donations from gay and bisexual men. But Cohen said the rules are still too restrictive.
"Even the new relaxed rules require gay men to abstain from sex for three months, whether they're in a monogamous relationship or not, before giving blood, though no such blanket restrictions exist for people of other sexual orientations," said Cohen, who last month was one of the first celebrities to go public with a positive coronavirus diagnosis. "Here's the thing: This virus is ravaging our planet and the FDA says there is an urgent need for plasma from survivors. All donated blood is screened for HIV and a rapid HIV test can be done in 20 minutes or less. So why the three-month rule? Why are members from my community being excluded from helping out when so many people are sick and dying? Maybe because we're valuing stigma over science, I don't know. My blood could save a life but instead it's over here boiling. This pandemic has forced us to adapt in many ways. We're quarantining, we're social distancing, we're wearing masks. Why can't we adapt when it comes to this rule? ... It's crazy they said, 'no, you can't.' Insane."
Cohen's statement echoes GLAAD, which launched a petition in March calling for an end to the current ban following U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ urgent call for donations during the COVID-19 crisis.
The petition has more than 23,000 signatures and several elected officials have spoken out about the issue.