COVID vaccines are now available, but who gets them and when are still questions to be answered. Clearly, even with vaccine availability, there will be patients getting the infection. What we really need, along with vaccines, are therapeutic measures to help patients with the disease.
Recently, treatment plans utilizing dexamethasone, a well know steroid treatment, along with a drug called remdesivir, have been shown to reduce the severity of illness for some patients, along with reducing the time needed in the hospital. Despite these treatments, patients continue to die. One additional therapy is the use of so-called convalescent plasma.
Plasma is the clear portion of your blood, made up of mostly water and a variety of proteins, including antibodies. Convalescent plasma is plasma from someone who has recovered from an illness, in this case COVID-19. The administration of this plasma is not a new technique but has been used many times in the past. Historically, this treatment can be traced back to 1901, when it was used to treat diphtheria.
Currently, this treatment is not felt to be helpful in all cases because the amount of antibody in any plasma specimen is not known; and therefore the amount of antibody being administered is variable. Further, studies and analysis of this therapeutic modality is needed. It comes with some side effects that include effects on the coagulation system, possible worsening of infection, increased risk of future infection, and allergic reactions.