Scientists making researches on the COVID-19 pandemic have on Friday called for more look into the usage of blood from recovered patients of the disease for the so-called convalescent plasma which is deemed to being a potential treatment after a small trial of hospitalized patients in India found that it wasn’t really useful o their own research.
The Indian result of the research was published in the British Medical Journal where it indicated that the plasma which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people did not help hospitalized patients fight off the infection and failed to even reduce the death rates or reduce the progression of the disease.
The findings had initially being thought of as being a potential therapy which the US President even called a “Historic breakthrough” and the said therapy had been used in about 100,000 patients in the US even though there was a limited evidence of its efficacy according to an expert.
And as for the the study conducted on some 460 patients in India, scientists who aren’t directly involved with the test encouraged the doctors to not give up on the convalescent plasma even though the results were disappointing.
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They said further and larger trials are needed, including in COVID-19 patients with milder disease and those newly infected.
“With just a few hundred patients, (the India trial) is still much too small to give clear results,” said Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Britain’s Oxford University.
“One could well imagine that the treatment might work particularly well in those earlier in the course of the disease or who have not been able to mount a good antibody response to the virus of their own,” he said. “But such speculation needs to be tested – we can’t just rely on an educated guess.”
The British government had started collecting the donated plasma which can be rolled out widely just in case reports shows it to being effective meanwhile the United States and Indian government had authorized the use of the convalescent plasma in the cases of emergency.
The Indian researchers enrolled 464 adults with COVID-19 who were admitted to hospitals across India between April and July. They were randomly split into two groups – with one receiving two transfusions of convalescent plasma alongside best standard care, and the other getting best standard care only.
Seven days after the usage of the convalescent plasma, there are reports about improvement in some cases such a shortness of breath and fatigue as well as leading to higher rates of “negative conversion” which is a sign that the virus is being neutralized by antibodies.
But this did not translate into a reduction in deaths or progression to severe disease by 28 days.
Ian Jones, a Reading University professor of virology, agreed with Landray that plasma may be more likely to work very soon after someone contracts COVID-19 but urged these and other researchers to continue working on trial medications with the hope of eventually nailing the right combination to curb off the disease once and for all.
“We still do not have enough treatments for the early stage of disease to prevent severe disease and until this becomes an option, avoiding being infected with the virus remains the key message,” he said.