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There is no known cure for the coronavirus pandemic upending every facet of life, but now a second study shows that plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients injected into those who are seriously ill can help.
The research highlights the “effectiveness” of convalescent plasma therapy in patients with severe COVID-19 cases. The new study, which was performed by doctors in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, gave infusions of 200 milliliters of convalescent plasma to 10 patients and found that their conditions improved.
“The results from 10 severe adult cases showed that one dose (200 mL) of [convalescent plasma] was well tolerated and could significantly increase or maintain the neutralizing antibodies at a high level, leading to disappearance of viremia in 7 [days],” researchers wrote. “Meanwhile, clinical symptoms and paraclinical criteria rapidly improved within 3 [days]. Radiological examination showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within 7 [days]. These results indicate that CP can serve as a promising rescue option for severe COVID-19, while the randomized trial is warranted.”
Blood transfusion in the ICU
Harnessing the blood plasma of recovered patients is known as “convalescent plasma,” and was used in the fight against the SARs outbreak, according to an article published last month in the medical journal The Lancet.
None of the patients have died and perhaps even more important, there were “no severe adverse effects” that were observed, the researchers added.
While the early results are encouraging, researchers are quick to caution that other factors, such as the “optimal dose and time point, as well as the clinical benefit of CP therapy, need further investigation in larger well-controlled trials.”
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Wuhan-based study comes after a separate study performed by doctors in Shenzen, China, on five other patients who were deemed “critically ill.” The experts found that giving them an experimental plasma transfusion that contained a “neutralizing antibody” helped in their recovery.
A Houston-area hospital became the first hospital in the U.S. to transfuse blood plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient into one that is critically ill on March 29.
New York state also recently announced it would fight the pandemic using the blood plasma of recovered patients. A Mount Sinai spokesperson recently told Fox News the hospital had initiated its convalescence plasma program on the evening of March 29.
On Wednesday, the spokespersons added it will “still be another 2-3 weeks before we have enough preliminary data to provide an assessment as to what the value of the research/treatment is.”
Other hospitals around the country are also performing the experimental trial after getting clearance from the Food and Drug Administration.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 1.44 million coronavirus cases had been diagnosed worldwide, including more than 399,000 in the U.S., the most impacted country in the world.