Home / World / No Evidence’ that COVID-19 Plasma Treatment Approved By Trump Works, Warns UN
No evidence' that COVID-19 plasma treatment approved

No Evidence’ that COVID-19 Plasma Treatment Approved By Trump Works, Warns UN

GENEVA – The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients was still considered experimental therapy, expressing the concern as a US push for treatment has raised concerns amid many scientists that formal studies derail.
On Sunday, the US Food and Drug Administration cleared what is called “emergency use” of the treatment under its special powers to speed up the availability of promising investigational drugs during a public health crisis. The action is not the same as endorsing plasma as safe and effective, and many rigorous studies are done to find out if it works.
So far, “the results are inconclusive,” WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told a press briefing.
“At the moment, this is still meager quality evidence.”
Convalescent plasma is a century-old treatment that was used to fight influenza and measles epidemics in the days leading up to vaccination and was tried more recently during the Ebola epidemic. When the body encounters a new germ, it makes proteins called antibodies which are to fight infection. The antibodies float in the plasma – the yellowish liquid part of the blood – which is collected from COVID-19 survivors and given to patients infected with the coronavirus.
Swaminathan said the WHO considers plasma therapy to be experimental and should continue to be evaluated.
She said the treatment is challenging to standardize: plasma has to be collected individually, and people produce different levels of antibodies.
“Of course, countries can make an emergency list if they feel the benefits outweigh the risks,” she said.
“But this is usually done when you are waiting for more definitive evidence.”
In a letter describing the FDA’s emergency response, the agency’s chief scientist said treatment should not be considered a new standard of care for coronavirus infections, and that more study data will be available in the coming months.
But already, so many COVID-19 patients have requested plasma rather than agreeing to be part of a research study that many scientists fear will not get a clear answer that the treatment actually works – and if it is, how and when it should be used for the best results.
Martin Landray, of the University of Oxford, said that while the therapy offers “huge promise” there was still no evidence that it worked.
“There is a huge gap between theory and proven benefits,” he said in a statement.
If only a few thousand patients participated in the research, “we would have the answer,” said Landray, who is leading a plasma study in the UK.
“If effective, convalescent plasma could be quickly used around the world. If not, it could be abandoned.”
The FDA’s action was announced at a press briefing Sunday by US President Donald Trump, who called it a “breakthrough.”
The FDA also granted hydroxychloroquine emergency clearance before suspending it months later after several trials showed the drug did not work against COVID-19 and increased the risk of heart, kidney, liver problems.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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