Plasma infusion contributes to complete cure of two serious patients

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : April 7, 2020, 15:17 | Updated : April 7, 2020, 15:17

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Convalescent plasma donated by young people was presented as an additional option to treat serious patients infected with a novel coronavirus, a research team at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital said after two patients were cured without any severe adverse effects.

Blood plasma is used to treat a wide variety of medical disorders. Because the effectiveness of blood plasma treatment is not yet well-founded, it is mainly used to treat new infectious diseases, which do not have any clear cure. Studies in China found that plasma was able to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In an experimental method, the Severance research team has used plasma donated by cured men in their 20s to treat a 72-year old man who was infected on February 22 and a 62-year-old woman who tested positive on March 6. At an early stage, the two had suffered from severe pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Their condition improved much after convalescent plasma was infused with systemic corticosteroid, the research team said in a paper published by the Journal of Korean Medical Science (JKMS). "After convalescent plasma infusion, the patients showed improved oxygenation and chest X-rays with decreased inflammatory markers and viral loads."

However, there are still limitations for the use of convalescent plasma due to the lack of large-scale clinical trials, the paper said, pointing out that the number of antibodies administered to each patient was not standardized and convalescent plasma usually proceeds with other treatments, such as antiviral agents and steroids, which can affect the relationship between convalescent plasma and antibody, confounding the results.

"Despite the limitations, our cases suggest that convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection might be an additional option to treat patients without causing any severe adverse effects," the paper said.

"Also, when used with systemic corticosteroids, we might expect the possibility of reducing excessive inflammatory response by corticosteroids as well as promoting the reduction of viral loads by convalescent plasma simultaneously. Further well-designed studies are needed to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma transfusion in COVID-19 patients," the paper concluded.

Choi Jun-yong, a medical professor involved in the infusion of convalescent plasma, proposed that a system should be established to secure enough plasma and efficiently manage donors.

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