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Valley Hospital Gives first dose of Convalescent Plasma to Treat COVID-19 patient


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Doctors at Valley Health System in New Jersey announced they have given the first dose of convalescent plasma therapy to a COVID-19 patient.The therapy that has been used to fight major illnesses dating back 100 years, and now it’s just a matter of time before doctors know if it is a step in the right direction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Neil Gaffin, an infectious disease specialist at Valley Hospital, said the therapy has been used in pandemics including the 1918 Spanish flu and the SARS outbreak.He says it works like this: A COVID-19 patient is infused with the plasma from an individual who has recovered from the infection. The hope is the antibodies boost the infected patient’s immune system to help fight the virus.

“These antibodies are thought to be the major mediators of immunity against the the virus, we don’t know all of the specifics, but that’s the theory behind this,” Gaffin said.

According to the Mayo Clinic the treatment is based on the function of antibodies, proteins created by the immune system that combat invaders to the body in a variety of ways. Some are capable of neutralizing a virus, while others work by mobilizing a range of other immune cells that fight off disease. It’s not yet known by which mechanism COVID-19 antibodies might work, but the thinking is that an infusion of convalescent plasma may boost a generalized response, known as passive immunity, until a patient develops a strong, targeted ability to fight the virus.

The idea of a treatment derived from recovering patients is not new. Doctors used serum — plasma with the clotting factors removed — as far back as the 1890s. In fact, serum was the only treatment option for certain infectious diseases until antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s. In 1934, doctors used convalescent serum and successfully halted an outbreak of measles at a Pennsylvania school.

FDA has issued guidance to provide recommendations to health care providers and investigators on the administration and study of investigational convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 (COVID-19 convalescent plasma) during the public health emergency.

Because COVID-19 convalescent plasma has not yet been approved for use by FDA, it is regulated as an investigational product.  A health care provider must participate in one of the pathways described below.  FDA does not collect COVID-19 convalescent plasma or provide COVID-19 convalescent plasma.  Health care providers or acute care facilities would instead obtain COVID-19 convalescent plasma from an FDA-registered blood establishment.