Convalescent plasma treatment for coronavirus patients is encouraging, experts say

Nearly 2,600 COVID-19 patients in the U.S. have been treated using the blood plasma of individuals who recovered from the disease, and the treatment has not signaled any major safety issues, experts told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

A small 10-person study that examined the treatment's effectiveness in COVID-19 patients in China showed that it can help reduce the duration of symptoms, improve oxygen levels and speed up viral clearance.

Anecdotal evidence now shows that the treatment is not leading to major adverse events among patients.

"We have not seen any huge safety signals. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive," said Michael J. Joyner, MD, an anesthesiologist at the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic to the Journal-Sentinel, who leads the organization's convalescent plasma program which is coordinating efforts across thousands of sites nationwide.

A safety-monitoring board at Mayo Clinic is reviewing all of the data on patients treated with survivor plasma under the program. Researchers are also comparing outcomes of those who receive the plasma treatment to those patients who do not.

Hospitals that are using the treatment say that the results so far have been encouraging. Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., has treated 145 COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma and reported no safety issues, according to the report.

The next step, Dr. Joyner told the Journal-Sentinel, is to determine whether the treatment is effective in a larger sample of patients.

Organizations are now launching formal clinical trials to assess the treatment with the help of the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, a group of physicians and scientists from 57 U.S. institutions who have self-organized to investigate the use of blood plasma from recovered patients in the current pandemic.



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