A study published in the American Journal of Pathology has suggested that using convalescent plasma therapy to treat patients with COVID-19 was both effective and safe. The ongoing study treated over 300 novel coronavirus patients.

The study tracked 350 acutely ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized within the Houston Methodist's system of eight hospitals between March 28 and July 6. James M Musser, author of the study, said in a statement, "Our studies to date show the treatment is safe and, in a promising number of patients, effective."

Musser added, "While convalescent plasma therapy remains experimental and we have more research to do and data to collect, we now have more evidence than ever that this century-old plasma therapy has merit, is safe and can help reduce the death rate from this virus."

Early Treatment Produces Better Results

Blood plasma
Blood Plasma (Representational picture) Pixabay

The research team found that those treated early in their illness with donated plasma that has the highest concentration of anti-COVID-19 antibodies are more likely to survive and recover than similar patients who were not treated with convalescent plasma.

Patients with a history of severe reactions to blood transfusions, those with underlying uncompensated and untreatable end-stage disease and patients with fluid overload or other conditions that would increase the risk of plasma transfusion were excluded. According to the study, the patients were tracked for 28 days after plasma transfusion and were compared to a control group of similar COVID-19 patients who did not receive convalescent plasma.

Minimal Side Effects

An observational propensity score-matched analysis was used to balance the characteristics of participants and allow for an objective interpretation of the results at this stage, the researchers said. "These latest results offer valuable scientific evidence that transfusing critically ill COVID-19 patients with high antibody plasma early in their illness -- within 72 hours after hospitalization proving most effective -- reduced the mortality rate," the author wrote.

Several studies have measured safety, showing that the more than 34,000 COVID-19 patients in the US who have received plasma transfusions for COVID-19 experienced minimal adverse effects.

(With inputs from agencies)