Injecting survivors’ blood boosts the recovery of COVID-19 patients and reduces their symptoms, according to the Daily Mail report.
This was according to a review of scientific literature that found convalescent immune plasma cleared the disease on adults under 60 years old in less than a week. Elderly patients will recover from the illness after 10 to 30 days after receiving plasma.
Scientists in Sweden and Finland said various studies worldwide indicate the therapy ‘is safe and effective.’ However, none of the reviewed research compared patients receiving plasma to a control group, which is the gold standard of scientific research.
In the first randomized control study in China, early results suggest the treatment makes no difference.
Hundreds of COVID-19 patients in London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals are currently being treated with convalescent plasma. They are part of a trial whether antibodies in survivors’ blood can bolster the currently affected patients’ struggling immune system.
In 1918, the treatment used the liquid part of the blood, known as convalescent plasma. This is then injected into COVID-19 patients who struggle to produce their antibodies.
The donation process takes around 45 minutes, and then the medical staff filters the blood through a machine to remove the plasma using the plasmapheresis process.
Donors who have tested positive for the coronavirus should have recovered already for at least three to four weeks, or ideally 29 days.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland have recently reviewed 10 studies on convalescent plasma (CP) therapy. A total of 61 coronavirus patients who volunteered in various trials in China, South Korea, and the US were aged between 19 and 100.
According to the reviews, half of the patients recovered within the first week, while 40% cleared the disease between eight and 29 days after receiving CP transfusion. Meanwhile, recovery data was unavailable for the remaining patients.
While the analysis is not yet peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, it showed that patients over 60 years old recovered after twice as much time as younger patients. However, there was no indicative disparity in recovery time between genders.
“The results reviewed here suggest that CP therapy for COVID-19 is safe and effective…. and created an immediate recovery response in about half of the patients reviewed,” said researchers of Karolinska Institute, which is led by Ville Pimenoff. They also noted that the recovery was significantly faster for patients aged under 60.
Also, the scientists acknowledged that early results of the Chinese study showed the therapy does not affect COVID-19 patients.
“Accordingly, we argue that older patients may need a significantly longer time for recovery. Further randomized clinical trial data for COVID-19 with rigorous ethical standards are urgently needed,” they wrote on the academics.
As of this writing, no cure is yet found for the coronavirus, which has already taken the lives of more than 400,000 patients worldwide.
However, convalescent plasma therapy is immediately available and relies only on drawing blood from a former patient. This is significantly cheaper than developing a new drug, which costs millions and a longer time to take through trials and regulation before mass-produced.
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