According to expedited emergency protocol approval, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now approves the use of plasma donated by COVID-19 survivors for treatment of patients who are critically ill with the virus. Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York just announced providers in the Empire State will treat the most severe COVID-19 cases with antibody-rich plasma taken from the blood of recovered patients.
A Treatment Going Way Back
Known as convalescent plasma, this treatment approach goes back a long time, reports NBC News. In such a dire situation that New York City especially finds itself, it might be the best approach given all the constraints and factors involved now.
A National Network of Investigators Push the Protocol
Apparently some kind of nationwide network of physicians and investigators led by Arturo Casadevall with Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore has been working around the clock to establish the protocols capitalizing on the use of plasma treatment for those combating COVID-19. Jeffrey Henderson, associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and part of the national network, reports, “The approach definitely has merit, and what’s remarkable about it is its not a new idea; it’s been with us for a good hundred years or longer.”
The network, led by Johns Hopkins and Dr. Casadevall, includes nearly two dozen hospitals such as Mayo Clinic, Stanford University Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Researchers and physicians will harvest the antibodies from the blood of previously infected patients. This approach, according to NBC News, was associated with milder symptoms and abbreviated hospitalization for at least some patients during the SARS outbreak of 2002. Moreover, some reports out of China point that convalescent plasma could impede the impact of COVID-19.
The FDA Protocol
Based on the FDA establishing the protocol, now physicians can request plasma for critically ill COVID-19 patients on a case by case basis. The FDA has committed to respond to requests within four to eight hours and for extreme emergencies the FDA established a hotline with the Office of Emergency Operations.
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Lead Research/Investigator of National Plasma Network