FDA approves new plasma treatment for COVID-19


Alice Xie and Gaby Lesmana

   The COVID-19 pandemic has plagued the world for nearly a year, but it seems U.S. health officials have found new treatment methods. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the treatment involves taking the convalescent plasma and antibodies from the blood of coronavirus survivors and transferring it into the bodies of COVID-19 patients. As the number of deaths from the pandemic increases, health officials have decided that the risk is worth the possibility of saving the lives of these patients. This new medical treatment was initiated on Aug. 23.

   Terri Sage, health teacher at West Ranch, explained how antibodies work to The Paw Print. “Antibodies are substances that our bodies or immune systems produce in responses to an invading antigen. Antibodies are very specific to the different types of invaders.”

   Currently, there are multiple antibody treatments in development: natural antibodies from the blood of other patients, synthetically made antibodies from the lab, and potential vaccines. Of these, the only one that has received FDA approval and has proven to be effective is the use of natural antibodies.

   Shortly after his diagnosis on Oct. 2, President Donald Trump received an antibody treatment that included the plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient (REGN-COV2), according to USA Today. Additionally, he received remdesivir, an antiviral, and dexamethasone, a steroid.

   Convalescent plasma is the yellow substance in blood that contains these antibodies, according to the FDA. The virus has been around long enough for a significant amount of recovered patients to be able to donate their plasma. By taking this plasma and giving it to those struggling with COVID-19, these antibodies will aid the patient in recovery.

   The FDA has ordered an emergency use authorization (EUA) on convalescent plasma to treat patients with COVID-19. The FDA has concluded that the potential benefits of the plasma treatment outweigh the risks. This EUA order calls for the administration of convalescent plasma by health care workers to treat COVID-19 patients.

   According to the FDA, over 70,000 COVID-19 patients have received the plasma treatment thus far, and there has been a significant (37%) decrease in the mortality rate of treated coronavirus patients. For some, the treatment may only be effective enough to lessen the symptoms and severity, but it still puts them on the road to recovery.

   Although the donated blood is thoroughly screened, some people may still experience infections or allergic reactions. These potential risks are what make people skeptical about the treatment. The question then becomes, are the benefits worth the risk? West Ranch Junior Ashley Kim explains her personal thoughts on the treatment.

   “If I was severely ill [from COVID-19] I would definitely take the treatment,” Kim told The Paw Print.

   It’s clear that if someone’s life was on the line, they may be desperate for any treatment, regardless of the risks. As we await further development in a cure for COVID-19, it seems that antibodies are currently the best option, sparking hope for desperate patients.