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Convalescent plasma shows success in reducing COVID-19 hospital admissions

The review demonstrates that convalescent plasma reduces the need for hospitalization by half for the patients diagnosed as being infected with COVID-19.

Israel finds case of Covid strain first detected in South Africa
A lab technician holds a tube containing a swab sample taken for Covid-19 serological test at the Leumit Health Services laboratory in the Israeli city of Or Yehuda in this file picture taken on July 16, 2020 - Copyright AFP Rostislav NETISOV
A lab technician holds a tube containing a swab sample taken for Covid-19 serological test at the Leumit Health Services laboratory in the Israeli city of Or Yehuda in this file picture taken on July 16, 2020 - Copyright AFP Rostislav NETISOV

New data provided by Johns Hopkins University has found that convalescent human plasma can assist with patients recovering for severe coronavirus infection. Human plasma is the fluid within which red and white blood cells, plus platelets, are found (the various elements together make up ‘blood’). The study looked at the effect of antibody-rich blood as an early treatment option.

The results a drawn from a U.S.-wide multicenter clinical trial. The review finds good evidence as to the use of plasma from convalescent patients. The phrase refers to people who have recovered from the coronavirus disease and whose blood has been found to contain sufficient levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

The effectiveness is where plasma is collected from someone who has recently suffered from an infection, stored, and then transfused into a person who is infected as an early treatment. As the plasma is provided by recent patients, the antibodies will always be the most effective against the predominant strains of the virus.

The review demonstrates that convalescent plasma reduces the need for hospitalization by half for the patients diagnosed as being infected with COVID-19 and who participated in the study.

Convalescent plasma has a long history. It was first attempted on a few patients in 1918 during the Spanish influenza epidemic. Earlier trials with plasma in relation to COVD-19 led to inconclusive results. The new data set is far more promising.

In total the scientists looked at data relating to 1,181 patients, who were either administered one dose each of either polyclonal high-titer convalescent plasma (containing a concentrated mixture of antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2) or placebo control plasma (with no SARS-CoV-2 antibodies). A successful therapy was defined as a patient not requiring hospitalization within 28 days after plasma transfusion. The relative risk in reduction for hospitalization was calculated to be 54 percent.

According to Professor David Sullivan: “Our study provides solid evidence that antibody-rich convalescent plasma should be part of the outpatient arsenal.”

The researchers conclude that the best role for COVID-19 high-titer convalescent plasma is extending its use to early outpatient treatment when other therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies or drugs, are either not readily available or ineffective.

The findings have been made available to the U.S.  FDA and the World Health Organization. The findings also appear is a paper that is pending peer review, and titled “Randomized Controlled Trial of Early Outpatient COVID-19 Treatment with High-Titer Convalescent Plasma.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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