Recent clinical research reveals that early therapy with COVID-19 survivors’ blood plasma does not prevent disease development in patients who have moderate COVID-19 symptoms but are at risk for more severe sickness.
Dr. Clifton Callaway, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “As clinicians, we expected this to make a huge difference in lowering serious disease, but it didn’t.”
Plasma COVID Survivors Won’t Help Patients With Symptoms Of Infection
Previously some experts were in the favor of plasma treatment for patients who develop the symptoms of infection to a certain level but this recent research has placed a full stop on this practice now.
There is no evidence where it can be seen that this treatment proves beneficial to the health of the concerned patient.
The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for survivors’ (“convalescent”) plasma to be administered to COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized last year.
Researchers questioned if individuals who had recently been infected with SARS-CoV-2 but were not critically unwell and could be treated as outpatients may benefit from convalescent plasma. The goal is to prevent serious diseases from developing.
In August 2020, the research, which is primarily financed by the US government, began. More than 500 individuals from 48 emergency rooms across the United States were involved in the study. The median age of the patients was 54, indicating that half were older and half were younger.
Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or chronic lung disease were all risk factors for progression to severe COVID-19.
High-titer convalescent plasma with anti-COVID antibodies or a placebo was given to participants at random.
The experiment was halted in February when preliminary findings revealed that the convalescent plasma therapy was unsuccessful.
Disease advanced in 30 percent of the plasma group and 31.9 percent of the placebo group after 15 days of therapy. The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine online on August 18th.
“We were anticipating for at least a 10% reduction in disease progression in this group with the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma, but the reduction we found was less than 2%,” Callaway stated in a press statement from the National Institutes of Health. “We were taken aback by that.”
It’s unclear why convalescent plasma therapy was ineffective, and Callaway says researchers are looking into it. Possible causes include inadequate dosage, treatment timing, and patient-related variables, according to Callaway.
Dr. Nahed El Kassar, one of the study’s co-authors, says “The findings indicate that convalescent plasma does not appear to be beneficial to this population.
However, the findings answer a critical clinical question and may help researchers get closer to developing more effective therapies for this deadly illness.” El Kassar is a physician at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the United States (NHLBI).
Cachay believes CP will be most beneficial in those who are exposed to the new coronavirus early on before symptoms develop, but a clinical trial will be needed to prove that theory. “If we don’t do this, if we merely collect non-conclusive anecdotal information, we won’t be any better off when the next wave hits.”
Other COVID-19 convalescent plasma investigations are ongoing or planned in various groups of individuals. One is in outpatients recuperating at home, and the other is in those at high risk of COVID-19 exposure to determine if plasma may prevent infection.
The experiment is being led by Dr. Simone Glynn, leader of the NHLBI’s Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics department. “The findings of these additional convalescent plasma trials are needed to provide a clearer, more definitive picture of its value for future COVID-19 therapies,” she added.