Can Blood from Recovered Coronavirus Patients Save Lives?

Can Blood from Recovered Coronavirus Patients Save Lives?

In a race to overcome the ravages of the Coronavirus, the FDA has approved emergency protocols allowing doctors to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients with plasma from survivors in the hope that the treatment will be effective in dulling the effects of COVID-19. The experimental treatment, reserved for patients who are in dire condition and at risk of death, is being instituted on a case-by-case basis until more sophisticated therapies and an eventual vaccine can be developed.

Doctor fighting Coronavirus treating COVID-19 with convalescent plasma The treatment involves harvesting anti-body rich plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are critically ill with the virus under the new emergency protocols approved Tuesday. This method, called convalescent-plasma therapy, dates back to the late 19th century and was previously used during the 2002 SARS outbreak and the flu pandemic of 1918. The CDC encourages donating blood if you are well.

“Although promising, convalescent plasma has not been shown to be effective in every disease studied,” the FDA announcement said. “It is therefore important to determine through clinical trials, before routinely administering convalescent plasma to patients with COVID-19, that it is safe and effective to do so.”

The highly infectious virus has topped 600,000 cases worldwide, and it continues to take a massive toll on the healthcare system due to the severe nature of the symptoms. Approximately 20% of cases require hospitalization, and the most stricken patients must be placed on a ventilator.

Two hospitals in New York City, Mount Sinai and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, hope to start using coronavirus-survivor plasma as early as next week to treat people with the disease.

“Every patient that we can keep out of the ICU is a huge logistical victory because there are traffic jams in hospitals,” said Michael Joyner, an anesthesiologist and physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

If a loved one is sick with COVID-19, your household will need to take extra precautions to keep from spreading the virus.

U.S. research trials also are expected to commence soon. The New York Blood Center plans to send out plasma for clinical trials at several hospitals, such as Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, and Montefiore Medical Center. The Johns Hopkins trial will enroll people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but who do not yet have symptoms, while Mayo and Monefiore will focus on people early into their illness.

Researchers plan to infuse patients at an early stage of the disease to see how often they advance to critical care. Another would explore plasma’s use as a preventative measure for people in close contact with those confirmed to have COVID-19 and evaluate how often such people fall ill after an infusion compared with others who were similarly exposed but not treated.

These outcomes are measurable within a month, said Liise-anne Pirofski, an infectious-disease specialist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Efficacy data could be obtained very, very quickly.”

This virus is to be taken seriously. Please follow every precaution to protect yourself and others from passing on this highly infectious virus.

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