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Covid-19 and Convalescent Plasma



This week, President Donald Trump announced the emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma to be used to treat Covid-19.  The "groundbreaking therapy" was announced at the White House after he accused the deep state at the FDA of delaying approval of therapeutics to hurt his re-election campaign.  


Folks, this is politics getting mixed up again with science.  The real question is: Is convalescent plasma effective in treating Covid-19?


Health experts are saying the early results are promising but we don't yet know if it works.  Convalescent plasma is taken from the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection and have developed antibodies.  If it works, those transfused antibodies will help the recipient of the plasma fight off the infection.


Currently there are fifteen randomized controlled clinical trials (and 54 other studies) looking at the effectiveness and one has shown preliminary success when given to patients under 80 who aren't on a ventilator within three days of diagnosis. These trials are at large academic centers and the studies have had some difficulty getting patients enrolled as they need to volunteer for a trial.  Not all patients with Covid are near a trial center. 


The bottom line is this; Convalescent plasma has been shown to help seriously ill people with other viral infections.  It may be useful for serious Covid patients but we cannot say for sure who would benefit until the trials are completed.  It is probably safe but the EUA may limit enrollment in the clinical trials which would give us the data we need.


If I had severe Covid-19 and was going downhill in the hospital, I would want to be given convalescent plasma.  But I have no idea if it would help or not. 

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