Why hospitals quietly ended convalescent plasma treatments

Early in the pandemic, the U.S. implemented a major effort to use convalescent plasma as an experimental treatment for COVID-19. Evidence about the treatment's efficacy has been underwhelming, spurring many hospitals to abandon their plasma treatment programs, reports The New York Times.

The U.S. invested about $800 million in this effort and distributed more than 722,000 units of plasma via a federal program ending this month. Many patients received plasma outside of clinical trials, which delayed researchers' ability to study and understand its effectiveness, according to the April 17 Times article.

Now, accumulating research suggests there is not strong evidence to support the plasma's continued use. 

"The data are just not that strong, and it makes it makes it hard, I think, to be enthusiastic about seeing it continue to be used," H. Clifford Lane, MD, deputy director for clinical research and special projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Times.

Some health systems, including Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic, have mostly stopped using the treatment. New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System — one of the first two systems to use convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients in March 2020 — has also stopped giving the treatment outside of clinical trials, citing a growing body of studies suggesting it has no benefit. 

"That's what science is — it's a process of abandoning your old hypotheses in favor of a better hypothesis," Nicole M. Bouvier, MD, an infectious-disease physician who helped set up Mount Sinai’s convalescent plasma program, told the Times. "That's just the way the cookie crumbles."

To read the full article, click here.

 

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