Plasma Treatment Against COVID-19: Does It Work?

Convalescent plasma therapy is currently being considered as treatment against the COVID-19. This procedure is a transfusion of plasma from recovered COVID-19 cases to currently sick patients. The plasma contains the antibodies within the blood. These antibodies are the ones that combat the coronavirus within our system. Providing COVID-19 patients with the plasma of recovered cases would hopefully equip them with the resistance needed to combat the disease. The US government has recently granted their hospitals the emergency authorization to perform this treatment to COVID-19 patients.

How much do we know?

The plasma transfusion method isn’t new and has been used in past pandemics and outbreaks. However, there are still very limited studies done on its efficacy against COVID-19.

Mayo Clinic is one of the few that has conducted studies on this method. In their test group of 20,000 COVID-19 patients, they found that it poses very little chance of side effects like heart failure, lung injury, allergic reaction, and death. This finding was published in April on the Mayo Clinic Proceedings with Dr. Scott Wright who led the study. He concluded that “the use of convalescent plasma was safe.” Mayo Clinic also did a separate study on 35,000 COVID-19 cases which showed that those who received the treatment within 3 days after diagnosis had a reduced 8.7% death rate in the next week. Those who received it 4 days or later had an 11.9% death rate. This study is not considered as a clinical trial and is yet to undergo a peer-review.

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Plasma from a recovered COVID-19 case

The possibility of “antibody-dependent enhancement” has also been proven unlikely. This means that antibodies have little chance to be ill-matched to the recipient and cause further cell infection. The plasma therapy’s actual efficacy in comparison to the standard treatments is still up for debate and can only be proven by further studies and clinical trials.

Synthesizing antibodies

One of the more long-term uses of donated plasma from recovered patients is for the ongoing search for the best antibody types against COVID-19. Biotech firms such as Lilly and Regeneron are currently working on cloning and synthesizing these antibody types and developing what is called “monoclonal antibodies”. This would allow for the production of drugs aganst the virus which could be distributed to the public.

One factor that should be considered about monoclonal antibodies is that the virus is constantly mutating. Developing a drug for one strain may fail to prevent the spread of a different mutation of the virus.

As more researches are being invested into finding the cure for this global pandemic, our country is currently focusing more on verified disease control measures such as contact tracing and promoting social distancing. MEDTEK remains a steadfast partner in our healthcare providers’ efforts in diagnosing and isolating positive cases to flatten the curve. We can offer hospitals and LGUs with a wide variety of diagnostic technologies for their rapid and PCR testing initiatives. For COVID-19 product inquiries and quotation requests, please fill out the form below.