After months of clinical trials by the Mayo Clinic, the FDA has granted emergency authorization of convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients. However, health care experts say there's still a lot they don't know about it. Experts weigh in on FDA authorization of plasma treatments for COVID patients. Centers like Vitalant have been collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma throughout the pandemic to be used in antibody treatments.
The FDA reports the potential benefits of plasma treatments outweigh the potential risks. The FDA’s emergency authorization is making plasma more accessible to doctors and COVID patients.
“It makes it a little bit easier in that any provider can order convalescent plasma now. Before, when we could only use it during the Mayo Clinic trial, only the providers who were signed up for the clinical trial could provide the plasma for the patient,” said Dr. J’Patrick Fahn, CHI St. Alexius medical director for Hospital Medicine and Intensive Care Unit Services.
The FDA announced the known and potential benefits of using antibodies from COVID-19 plasma outweigh the potential risks. “So, we think what’s happening is the antibodies are recognizing the SARS-CV-2 molecule. They’re binding to it. And then, they’re triggering the immune system to kill the virus,” said North Dakota Department of Health Field Medical Officer Dr. Joan Connell.
Doctors say the plasma treatment process is similar to a blood transfusion and many of the same risks and complications can arise from the process. On top of that, they say the virus is too new and information too limited to know all the possible risks of using plasma to treat coronavirus.
“The actual information to figure out how to use it properly, is it really going to be safe, when to use it, how much of it to use-- isn’t clear yet. That information just isn’t available. So, we’re still shooting in the dark at this point,” said Sanford Infectious Disease Consultant Dr. Noe Mateo.
Both Sanford and CHI St. Alexius had providers who participated in the Mayo Clinic trial. However, doctors at both hospitals say the data is too limited to know for sure if the plasma directly contributed to patient recovery. Dr. Fahn says he expects the demand for convalescent plasma to increase after the emergency authorization and urges those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate.
If you’d like to contribute, you can visit centers like Vitalant.
Emmeline Ivy, Reporting
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