Last week, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, addressed inaccurate and misleading remarks he made in a news conference the previous evening. Hahn had initially claimed that plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients — what’s known as convalescent plasma — could save 35 out of every 100 people who contract the disease.

As he has since explained on television and Twitter, his initial assessment conflated two different things: relative risk reduction (that is, how much a treatment reduces the risk of death in one group of patients compared to a different group) and absolute risk reduction (that is, how much a treatment reduces the risk of death in a group of patients compared to the rest of the population who didn’t get the treatment).

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