In a new study, researchers found that Using the donated blood plasma of COVID-19 survivors to treat patients with severe COVID-19 could actually work.
They found 39 patients with severe COVID-19 treated at one New York City hospital had a better survival rate.
The research was conducted by a team at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Plasma is the component of blood that contains immune system antibodies.
So-called “convalescent plasma” from COVID-19 survivors is rich in antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, and it’s thought that infusing the plasma into COVID-19 patients might help them battle their illness.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently has made the unusual and controversial move of granting emergency approval for the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19—despite a lack of proof of efficacy from randomized clinical trials.
In the study, the team tested if convalescent therapy could help speed recovery from severe COVID-19.
They tracked outcomes for 39 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
They were all very ill: By the time these patients were given a donor plasma transfusion, 87% required supplemental oxygen to breathe, and 10% were on ventilators.
Outcomes for the 39 transfused patients were compared to those of 156 other COVID-19 patients with similar symptoms and medical histories who had not received the experimental treatment.
The researchers found that by day 14 after receiving the plasma therapy, 18% of patients still required oxygen supplementation, compared to 28% of those in the “control” group who hadn’t gotten the infusion.
By the end of the study in May, 13% of people who got convalescent plasma had died compared with 24% of those who hadn’t.
The team concludes that convalescent plasma is potentially effective against COVID-19.
They say that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and draw more definitive conclusions about the efficacy of convalescent plasma transfusion for the treatment of COVID-19 in different populations.
One author of the study is Dr. Nicole Bouvier.
The study is published in Nature Medicine.
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