The most comprehensive national study to date has found that convalescent plasma appears to be safe to use on COVID-19 patients, a promising development in the race to find a treatment for the deadly virus. But the study didn’t determine whether the treatment works.
A team of more than 5,000 doctors from over 2,000 hospitals and laboratories have been testing the experimental therapy, which involves transfusing the antibody-rich blood serum of recovered COVID-19 patients into people who are battling the illness.
Of the 5,000 seriously ill patients who received blood plasma transfusions for the study, fewer than 1 percent experienced serious adverse events. The mortality rate seven days after treatment was 14.9 percent, but the researchers noted the infusion patients were already gravely ill and the rate “does not appear excessive.”
“We’re very encouraged that the treatment is safe,” Dr. Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic and the principal investigator of the study, told NBC News. “That was really the first hurdle for us. And showing that it’s safe gives us confidence to move on and begin to try to understand the efficacy.”
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