Given the current CoVid19 pandemic, and new treatment programs from the FDA, a lot of people have been asking:
What is Convalescent Plasma?
I hope to give you a non-political answer. As well as links to key resources to help you make your own decision about whether this treatment program is safe and effective.
Now the following definition for convalescent plasma is taken from Cedars-Sinai:
“This is plasma that is collected from people who have recovered from a disease, whose blood is presumed to have antibodies for that disease. These antibodies are what helped the person fight off the initial infection.”
As people are exposed to new viruses or pathogens, they can be infected. Once that happens, the Adaptive part of your immune system kicks in to create specific immune cells to help destroy these viruses or pathogens.
Part of this process is to create antibodies.
Antibodies surround the infected cells to prevent the virus or pathogen from spreading. This gives your body time to ramp up its ability to create the specific immune cells that then destroy these inflected cells. And help to prevent further spread in your body.
Once a person has fully recovered from their illness, these antibodies float in their blood plasma, which is the liquid component of the blood.
Qualified medical personnel can than harvest this plasma and its antibodies. Test it for safety. Then purify it to isolate the antibodies to create “convalescent plasma.”
This convalescent plasma can than be injected into another patient sick with that same type of virus. The antibodies in the convalescent plasma can help fight the virus. And give the patient time for their own immune system to generate antibodies in sufficient quantities to then overcome the virus or pathogen.
This is where the controversy surrounding convalescent plasma comes in.
When do you give it to an inflected person to help their bodies produce the needed immune cells to overcome the infection?
I’m going to use an analogy here to help you understand this.
Starter yogurt is a balanced blend of bacteria that consume the lactose in milk. They convert the lactose to lactic acid, which then gives the yogurt its taste and texture.
Now you don’t put starter yogurt into yogurt.
Instead you but starter yogurt into milk to help start the process of converting that milk to yogurt.
And the same with convalescent plasma.
To improve your outcome (which is to keep the illness from causing death) you give the convalescent plasma as early as possible once the virus or pathogen has been identified in the person’s system.
Recently, the FDA gave an Emergency Use Authorization or EUA for the use of CoVid19 convalescent plasma to treat people hospitalized with CoVid19.
Much of the work in this area has been spearheaded by the Mayo Clinic.
They released data in June of 2020 showing that this type of plasma treatment was safe. Their findings suggested that using convalescent plasma to treat patients with CoVid19 was associated with a lower likelihood of death.
The controversy about this treatment program is when to administer it to have a positive outcome.
When given within three days of a CoVid19 diagnosis, the seven-day death rate was 8.7%. When the convalescent plasma was given at day four or more, the seven-day mortality rate increased to 11.9%.
And the other factor that was not completely assessed was how long have these patients been inflected.
Once you test positive for CoVid19, that doesn’t mean that you just got the virus. It could have been in your system for several days before your symptoms causes you to go get tested.
And like “starter yogurt” the sooner you introduce it into the process the better the results.
Here are some excellent links for additional information on this topic. They will provide you with more information on the FDA’s decision to issue a EUA allowing doctors to prescribe this use of convalescent plasma to treat CoVid19.
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