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FDA Approves Centuries-Old Blood Treatment for Critical Coronavirus Patients


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Mar 19, 2015
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Cutting through bureaucratic red-tape.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that physicians treating critically ill coronavirus patients now can use a centuries-old practice that injects sick people with the blood plasma of survivors of infectious diseases. A treatment, known as convalescent plasma, will immediately allow doctors in the U.S. to use plasma donated by coronavirus survivors to treat patients who are in critical condition with COVID-19.

Medical experts say plasma from recovered patients is rich in antibodies against the virus.

“Use of convalescent plasma has been studied in outbreaks of other respiratory infections, including the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, 2003 SARS-CoV-1 epidemic, and the 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic. Although promising, convalescent plasma has not been shown to be effective in every disease studied,” the FDA said in the announcement.

The FDA added that convalescent plasma can be collected only from individuals who are eligible to donate blood and who have fully recovered from the coronavirus infection.

Dr. Jeffrey Henderson, an associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told NBC News he is optimistic about using the time-tested transfusion method.



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