Hospitals work to determine plausibility of plasma as COVID-19 treatment

Posted at 8:38 PM, Apr 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 23:24:04-04

CINCINNATI — As the push for plasma as a possible treatment for COVID-19 grows, researchers at Hoxworth Blood Center and local hospitals are working to determine how useful the procedure could be to treat people sick with the virus.

Doctors at Hoxworth and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center are testing the treatment options on COVID-19 patients, but they need more plasma from people who have recovered from it.

Ohio Republican Congressman Brad Wenstrup said he's working closely with the FDA to determine proper protocols for the treatment. As a doctor himself, Wenstrup said he is using his medical background to stay up to date on efforts to treat COVID-19.

Those who have had COVID-19 and successfully recovered can donate convalescent plasma -- plasma that still contains antibodies for the virus. It's a similar process to donating blood, but Hoxworth said it needs more volunteers to participate. The treatment is still in experimental stages and its effectiveness is still being tested, but the process has been used to treat other diseases before.

"The thing about the antibodies is that’s what the human body has developed to fight this virus," said Wenstrup. "That’s not a new scientific process. This is the type of thing we’ve done with measles, mumps, et cetera. So it’s not a new science, but the results of this are yet to be seen."

Wenstrup said, ideally, medical professionals will develop a vaccine and anti-viral treatment for COVID-19, but in the meantime, convalescent plasma could be a good option for treating people currently sick.

The FDA has approved the process overall, but doctors need more people to donate plasma to help move research along.