HACKENSACK, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— It’s a promising treatment for desperately ill hospitalized COVID patients. Earlier this fall, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for a treatment known as convalescent plasma therapy. Blood donated by people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 is used in patients who are ill and not responding to other treatments.
Pulmonologist Karan Omidvari has been on the COVID frontlines since March.
“I was actually what we call the screener. I was the guy who would go in and see them and see which ones needed to come to the intensive care unit,” described Karan Omidvari, MD, a pulmonologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
But on April seventh, Omidvari went from doctor to COVID patient. He was so sick, he drove himself to his own emergency room.
“It’s almost like drowning. Obviously you’re not underwater, but you feel like you cannot get enough oxygen to your tissue,” illustrated Dr. Omidvari.
Omidvari’s colleagues put him on a ventilator and watched as his condition went from bad to worse.
“They were like kind of getting, from what my wife says, getting her prepared that I might not make it,” shared Dr. Omidvari.
That’s when doctors made the call to try convalescent plasma therapy. Scientists start with blood from recovered COVID patients.
“The red blood cells are separated out and you’re left with this yellowish gold liquid, which has plasma that contains antibodies,” explained David Perlin, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation.
An infusion of the plasma is designed to boost a sick patient’s immune response. Forty-eight hours after Karan Omidvari was treated, he was off the ventilator. And three weeks later, Omidvari’s colleagues cheered him on as he was released from the medical center.
“I personally believe nothing else was working and the plasma worked. And, it could be just my case, but so far, as far as I can see, it’s still the only hope we have, the only thing that’s working,” Dr. Omidvari shared.
Researcher David Perlin says the FDA’s emergency use authorization allows doctors to treat COVID patients with convalescent plasma at an earlier stage. Perlin’s lab at the Hackensack Meridian Center For Discovery And Innovation is working to identify plasma donors who produce higher levels of antibodies than the norm that could be then used for therapy. If you, or someone you know, has had COVID-19 within the last four months and has recovered, you can help save a life. Your blood may contain antibodies that fight the virus and can help critically ill people infected with COVID-19. For more information on how to be screened as a volunteer visit: https://www.vitalant.org/covidfree.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY: COVID ANTIBODIES SAVING LIVES
REPORT: MB #4826
COVID-19: COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The COVID-19 is the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, headache, loss of taste or smell, repeated shaking with chills, sore throat, shortness of breath and muscle pain.
TREATMENTS FOR COVID-19: The antiviral drug remdesivir was FDA approved in October 2020 to treat certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Scientists are also working hard to develop other effective treatments. The FDA has granted an emergency use authorization for a treatment called bamlanivimab which is a monoclonal antibody. It has been approved to treat non-hospitalized adults and children over age 12 with mild to moderate symptoms who have recently tested positive and are at risk for developing severe COVID-19 or being hospitalized. This includes people over 65, people with obesity, and those with certain chronic medical conditions. However, this treatment is not authorized for hospitalized COVID-19 patients or those receiving oxygen therapy. Researchers are studying other potential treatments for COVID-19, including antiviral drugs such as favipiravir and merimepodib. Dexamethasone is one type of anti-inflammatory drug that researchers are studying to treat or prevent organ dysfunction and lung injury from inflammation. There is also anti-inflammatory therapy to treat or prevent dysfunction of several organs and lung injury from infection-associated inflammation, and there are drugs being studied for effectiveness including amlodipine and losartan.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY TREATMENT: Convalescent plasma therapy uses blood from people who have recovered from an illness to help others recover. The FDA authorized convalescent plasma therapy for people with COVID-19. The FDA is allowing its use during the pandemic because there is no approved treatment for COVID-19. Blood donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 has antibodies to the virus. The donated blood is processed to remove blood cells, leaving behind liquid plasma and antibodies. These can be given to people with COVID-19 to boost their ability to fight the virus. David Perlin, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer for the center of Discovery and Innovation at Hackensack Meridian Health said “You must control virus and you must control the inflammatory response. In some patients, it is no longer the viral response, it is the inflammatory response which is dominant for their disease, and that is what needs to be controlled. But what we want to do is push it back to the earlier stage of infection, be able to treat individuals, and have a therapy that we know is safe, efficacious and has a high probability of leading to success, and that’s where the emergency use authorization comes in. It is not an approval; it is an emergency use authorization for these patients, and it is helpful because it allows us to expand the number of people who receive the product. In my view, it will save lives.” If you, or someone you know, had COVID-19 within the last 4 months and have recovered, you can help save a life. Your blood may contain antibodies that fight the virus and can help critically ill people infected with COVID-19. For more information on how to be screened as a volunteer visit:
(Sources: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/convalescent-plasma-therapy/about/pac-20486440, Interview with David Perlin, PhD)
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