Plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from coronavirus has been found to help patients suffering severe COVID-19 in a small US study.
Patients with severe COVID-19 who were given plasma from people who’d recovered were more likely to stabilise or need less oxygen support than other similar hospital patients, according to the results of the study released on Friday.
The study showed a trend toward better survival rates, but the number of patients was small and the results cannot be interpreted as applying to patients on mechanical ventilators, researchers at New York’s Mt. Sinai Medical Centre said.
People who survive an infectious disease like COVID-19 are left with blood containing antibodies – proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight off a virus.
The blood component that carries the antibodies can be collected and given to newly infected patients. It is known as “convalescent plasma”.
Mt. Sinai analysed outcomes for 39 hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 who received convalescent plasma transfusions compared to outcomes for patients with carefully matched medical status.
After two weeks, the disease worsened in 18 per cent of the plasma patients and 24 per cent of the control patients.
As of May 1, nearly 13 per cent of plasma recipients had died, compared with more than 24 per cent of the control patients, with 72 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively, being discharged alive.”
“This is a retrospective case-controlled study. It does not have the rigour of a randomised, controlled trial so that still needs to be done,” Dr. Nicole Bouvier, an infectious disease specialist at Mt. Sinai and the study’s lead author, told Reuters.
“This does show promise that convalescent plasma is effective.”
Hospitals around the world have been using plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients, but there has been little information on how effective the treatment is.