COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Found Very Effective When Administered Early
The peer-reviewed publication the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), recently published final results from a nationwide multicenter study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins that show plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and whose blood contains antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is an effective outpatient treatment option.
The Original Research showed that antibody-rich COVID convalescent plasma — when administered to COVID-19 outpatients within nine days after testing positive — reduced the relative risk for hospitalization by 47% - of the study’s predominantly unvaccinated outpatients.
Timing is critical: “The earlier, the better,” the researchers say.
“Based on our findings and conclusions — which are now validated through the peer-review process — we encourage health care professionals to keep SARS-CoV-2 antibody-rich blood plasma available in their blood banks as part of the treatment arsenal against early-stage COVID-19,” says study co-lead author David Sullivan, M.D., professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a joint appointment in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“We believe that the best role for convalescent plasma is extending its use to early outpatient treatment when other therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies or drugs, are either not readily available — as in low- and middle-income countries — or ineffective, as with SARS-CoV-2 variants that are resistant to certain monoclonal antibodies,” Dr. Sullivan added in a press release issued on March 30, 2022.
The U.S. FDA currently authorizes plasma as a treatment option for COVID-19 outpatients with immunocompromising diseases or receiving immunocompromising medications and for all patients hospitalized with early-stage COVID-19.
The next step, the researchers say, is to make convalescent plasma for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19 easier to use, more efficiently administered, and more accessible to those who might need it.
As part of that effort, they have provided clinicians with a guide for implementing a plasma transfusion center for outpatients with COVID-19, including logistical, staffing, and blood banking requirements.
The guide appears in a paper published on March 29, 2022, in the journal Transfusion.
Furthermore, there have been three developments supporting the use of convalescent plasma for early-stage COVID-19:
- On Dec. 28, 2021, the FDA expanded the authorized emergency use of convalescent plasma with high titers of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies “for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients with an immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment, in either the outpatient or inpatient setting.”
- The Infectious Disease Society of America updated its “Guidelines on the Treatment and Management of Patients with COVID-19” to include the “use of convalescent plasma in ambulatory patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 at high risk for progression to severe disease with no other treatment options.”
- On March 7, 2022, the American Red Cross announced that it was “temporarily testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies to help identify donations that could be processed into convalescent plasma.” The organization said this was being done “to help support immunocompromised patients battling COVID-19.”
This research was supported by a contract with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense of the Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Defense Health Agency; Bloomberg Philanthropies; the State of Maryland, and others. These researchers did not disclose industry conflicts of interest.
Dr. Sullivan can be contacted at email@example.com.
Additional COVID-19 treatment options are listed at PrecisionVaccinations.com/treatments.
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Note: The press release and study content were edited for clarity and manually curated for mobile readers.