The US National Institutes of Health announced on Tuesday that it is halting clinical trials on the efficacy of plasma therapy, taken from people cured of COVID-19, for treating patients who have not been hospitalized, with interim results no. It showed no benefit.
Trials began in August 2020. Just over 500 people participated after being presented to a hospital emergency room with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and did not require hospitalization. Participants selected for this study also had risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.
Some received treatment, while others received a placebo, and then researchers observed how many people needed additional emergency care, were hospitalized, or died in the next 15 days.
And the institutes wrote in a statement that a committee tasked with evaluating the data decided that “if convalescent plasma does not cause any harm, it is unlikely to benefit the patient group.”
So-called convalescent plasma is the liquid portion of a patient’s blood that is recovering, and that concentrates the antibodies the body produces to fight the virus after infection.
At the end of October, a study conducted in India and published in the medical journal BMJ concluded that this treatment “has limited efficacy”. According to the scientists, this method did not allow to reduce the death rate or prevent the disease from spreading to a dangerous condition for moderate patients.
More than 100,000 people have received this treatment in the United States since the start of the pandemic, and many others around the world, note the National Institutes of Health.
At the end of August, at the urging of Donald Trump, the FDA urgently authorized the transfusion of blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to hospitalized patients.
Its leader at the time, Stephen Hahn, admitted he was wrong during a press conference alongside Mr Trump, citing numbers that overestimated the benefits of this treatment.
The Food and Drug Administration recently restricted its emergency license to use highly concentrated plasma for antibodies only, and for hospitalized patients who have had little progress in disease, or who are in the hospital and whose ability to produce antibodies has been impaired.
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