Convalescent plasma treatments for coronavirus patients
Doctors used convalescent plasma for patients during the major pandemic of 1918, it helped save lives. The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for patients with COVID-19. Doctors retrieve plasma from recovered patients who donate their plasma with antibodies to the virus in order to help other patients. However, there is still further research necessary.
“What we really need are drugs that, when given early, can prevent a symptomatic person from requiring hospitalization or very dramatically diminish the time that they’re symptomatic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Thomas File is president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He expressed that the available data on the therapy is not persuasive enough.
“While the data to date show some positive signals that convalescent plasma can be helpful in treating individuals with COVID-19, especially if given early in the trajectory of disease, we lack the randomized controlled trial data we need to better understand its utility in COVID-19 treatment,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
In fact, more than 2,700 hospitals as of this week have used plasma therapy by an expanded-access program directed by the Mayo Clinic. The program has used plasma to treat more than 100,000 patients.
However, there are big challenges to broad use of convalescent plasma. Plasma must be extracted promptly from a patient donor to a patient recipient. Besides, clinicians must match their blood types. The supply is not abundant because blood donations are necessary.
Thus, plasma will probably not become a long-term approach to overcome the virus. Scientists and other healthcare professionals perceive plasma as an interim solution.