The United States Department of Defense grants $750,000 contract to Plasma Technologies LLC to manufacture products derived from convalescent plasma to help with the treatment search against Covid-19. The press release was published on the DoD website on Monday.
Convalescent plasma is a somewhat outdated form of therapy but as of now, every option is explored and every risk is taken to end the pandemic.
The contract requires the company to produce therapeutic drug products from convalescent plasma at a rapid pace. US President Donald Trump and the health authorities did a court press encouraging recovered Covid-19 patients to donate plasma as soon as possible to help with the production.
There is still very little evidence of the effectiveness of the treatment method despite the fact that almost 67,000 patients are being treated as such and around 14,000 physicians are actively employing the method. But many studies are currently being conducted on that.
Convalescent plasma therapy involves the use of blood from recovered patients to infuse to currently ill patients and give antibodies to them. The plasma is the liquid part of the blood containing the infection-fighting cells and antibodies. It can help hasten recovery. It has been a form of treatment since the mid 1800’s during the Victorian era. It was used for severe flu cases. It has also been successful for other Coronavirus strains like MERS and SARS. But further studies are required for specifically Covid-19.
In March when the pandemic hit its peak in New York City, there wasn’t any form of treatment available yet. This was the first option for doctors.
Under the Operation Warp Speed, vaccines are deemed as the ultimate salvation. But it won’t be the only therapeutic method that will solve the current problem. Convalescent plasma is the fastest viable solution that the government is exerting every effort to gain solid evidence of.
Few studies in China showed promising results. One study where five patients were treated showed improvements in the conditions of the majority of the test subjects. Another involved 10 patients with similar results and showed no problems regarding safety.
US FDA has not officially given the green light for the utilization of convalescent plasma. Houston Methodist medical professionals conducted transfusions. 7 out of 25 admitted Covid-19 patients were discharged safely seven days after treatment. Two weeks after, conditions of 19 patients improved and 11 were discharged.
On large-scale trials, 5,000 patients were treated, and it was considered safe.
One donation from a person is able to treat 2-3 people, and donors can make another donation again within a few weeks. According to experts, only a month remains before the antibodies contained in recovered patients’ blood start to fade away. It is yet to be confirmed.
Though it has not been reviewed yet, a study conducted early August revealed a significant reduction in mortality of 35,000 patients after treatment.