The United States Food and Drug Administration on Sunday approved the “emergency use” of blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as a treatment against the infection, reported AFP.
The FDA said early evidence suggested blood plasma can decrease mortality and improve the health of patients when administered in the first three days of their hospitalisation. The US has so far registered over 1.77 lakh coronavirus deaths – the highest in the world. “This product may be effective in treating COVID-19 and... the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product,” the agency said in a statement.
So far, 70,000 patients have been treated using blood plasma, said the FDA. “It appeared that the product is safe and we’re comfortable with that and we continue to see no concerning safety signals,” said Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, according to Reuters.
Researchers say that the convalescent plasma of a patient who has recovered from Covid-19 could contain antibodies developed by the individual against the disease. As a consequence, convalescent plasma could provide short-term immunity against the disease by providing antibodies that neutralise the virus and prevent further damage.
Convalescent plasma has previously been used against viral illnesses such as rabies, hepatitis B, polio, measles, influenza and Ebola. It was also used in recent outbreaks of MERS and SARS-1, where faster viral clearance following convalescent plasma being administered has been documented.
President Donald Trump said the treatment could reduce deaths by 35%. He urged Americans to come forward to donate plasma if they’ve recovered from Covid-19. “This is what I’ve been looking forward to doing for a long time,” the president told reporters on Sunday. “I’m pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives.”
The announcement also came on the eve of the Republican National Convention, where Trump will launch his campaign for a second term as president.
The authorisation from FDA came a day after Trump blamed the agency for deliberately delaying the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and therapies. “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” he had tweeted while tagging FDA’s commissioner Stephen Hahn. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”