The Food and Drug Administration might allow physicians to treat critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19 under a new protocol. The protocol might allow physicians to treat such patients with the plasma of people who recovered from COVID-19.
The therapy named as convalescent plasma method dates back centuries to treat several killer diseases. This also includes the well known 1918 flu pandemic that killed around 50 million people. This method was followed in ages where there were no vaccinations and antiviral drugs were available. Therefore, such therapy seems promising in tackling COVID-19 as there is no other effective alternative to treat the disease. In addition, producing a vaccine against the disease may still take time. So, this therapy may help us halt the virus for a brief period.
What is convalescent therapy?
The therapy method includes harvesting of plasma that is rich with antibodies to fight against the virus. These are present in patients on exposure to the virus. This method was even associated with the 2002 SARS outbreak. Also, initial reports from China also suggests that convalescent therapy may help to halt the virus. Currently, the emergency protocol is reserved for patients who are in critical condition. As far as we know, therapy is proven to be effective in the past and has given us good results. Therefore, scientists expect the same with COVID-19 too. But we cannot predict the exact outcome of the therapy unless we have exact clinical records with the patients. If proven effective, it can save many lives that are in fatal conditions. In addition, it can also be given to front line health workers who can become seriously ill from the disease.
Although, convalescent therapy has been effective against most of the disease tested, the FDA has also cautioned to use such therapies and researchers wishing to test such therapies are required to seek permission from the FDA. Also, after approval, widespread requirements of blood will be needed from recovered donors from all over the country. Therefore, health officials are planning to recruit people who have recovered have recovered recently.
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Source: NBC News
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