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Data on Blood Plasma May Be Lacking, But Patience is a Luxury

Armand Yazdani

Posted on August 28, 2020 18:01

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Although information on the wide scale transfusions of blood plasma remains minimal, the US lacks the time to wait for a more efficient treatment. For now, treating patients with blood plasma may be a leap forward.

The Food and Drug Administration aims to curb COVID-19 cases by giving emergency authorization for doctors to use plasma on patients infected with the disease. This step would permit doctors to treat patients with plasma, despite insufficient clinical evidence determining the treatment’s safety and effectiveness.

According to the FDA, the emergency use authorization would allow health care workers to use plasma and remdesivir -- a drug once touted to help treat Ebola -- in treating people hospitalized with severe symptoms, such as low blood oxygen. Despite the lack of evidence strongly supporting plasma treatment for the coronavirus, allowing more doctors to use it is urgent in this dire pandemic.

Using convalescent blood plasma centers on transfusing the antibody-rich blood from recovered coronavirus victims to the infected. Transferring the antibodies -- the proteins made for infections -- could then bolster patients’ immunity.

Strict regulations of plasma donations could lower the risks of the blood transmitting infections to recipients.

Indeed, more research must be conducted to test the effectiveness of blood plasma, but they may be what Americans need to battle COVID-19. Convalescent plasma was used for the 1918 Flu and considered to be used for the Ebola virus, and studies conducted during the years of the Spanish Flu suggest convalescent plasma was effective in treating patients.

Convalescent plasma has been used to battle H1N1, SARS, rabies, Hepatitis B, and measles.

Moreover, this plasma can be made locally, having been transfused, making it easily accessible. It’s also worth noting that the FDA concluded that although the extent of the benefits remain unclear, the benefits of administering plasma outweigh the risks. 

Blood plasma has been used as a form of treatment for many diseases. Although the use of convalescent plasma has never been as wide scale as the government now proposes to make it, case series from SARS outbreaks suggested plasma transfusion was relatively safe. Therefore, even if convalescent plasma is less effective than hoped, the risks should be minimal. Its effective history with other pandemics may suggest that it can be also effective in curtailing the spread of COVID-19. 

Even though using blood plasma to treat patients on a wide national scale may be jumping the gun, the treatment may offer promising benefits. It can be made locally and has demonstrated to be effective during the Spanish Flu and other disease outbreaks throughout history.

If enough Americans are willing to donate their plasma, and given the donations will be strictly regulated, the risks of administering convalescent plasma could be minimal. At a time where the coronavirus continues to plague this country, patience for a completely safe and sound treatment is a luxury. 

Armand Yazdani

Posted on August 28, 2020 18:01

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Source: WPRI 12

WASHINGTON (WPRI) — A new treatment for COVID-19 was given the green light by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over...

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