FDA approves plasma therapy treatment for coronavirus

FDA approves plasma therapy treatment for coronavirus
FDA approves plasma therapy treatment for coronavirus

DETROIT – Health experts say a coronavirus treatment could be ready in a few months, but a vaccine still wouldn’t be available for at least a year.

RELATED: Questions about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Ask Dr. McGeorge

The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened health on a global scale, so it’s understandable people are desperate for new treatments. The FDA acknowledged Tuesday this pandemic posed a unique challenge and quickly approved a new therapy for use outside of clinical trials.

It’s called convalescent plasma.

The idea is that a blood component -- plasma -- collected from recovered COVID-19 patients may contain antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which might be effective against the infection.

Convalescent plasma has been studied against other viruses like H1N1, SARS, MERS and influenza. While it might be promising, it’s important to note that it has not been effective in every disease studied.

While we would ordinarily wait for the results of large scale clinical trials, the FDA recognizes the urgency of the current situation and they’re making convalescent plasma therapy available to severe COVID-19 patients through individual applications.

Meanwhile another drug -- Remdesivir -- is being studied in several large-scale clinical trials. Remdesivir recently hit a hurdle because Gilead, the drug’s manufacturer, has been overwhelmed by demand and cannot fill all the requests.

Remdesivir was trialed as a potential therapy for Ebola but the studies did not find any significant benefit.

Neither of these treatments has shown any proven efficacy against COVID-19 and, while they might be used as part of a study or as a last hope treatment, there is still risk and we can’t count on them.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.