The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) just secured a major breakthrough in COVID-19 therapeutics.
In preliminary findings published this week in the journal PNAS, a single 200 mL dose of convalescent plasma (CP) from COVID-19 patients who recently recovered shortened the duration of symptoms, improved oxygen levels and expedited viral clearance in patients who were still suffering from the disease.
“Radiological examination showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within seven days. These results indicate that CP can serve as a promising rescue option for severe COVID-19, while the randomized trial is warranted,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “COVID-19 is currently a big threat to global health. However, no specific antiviral agents are available for their treatment.”
Extracting immune antibodies for supportive care isn’t a novel concept, but there has been a lot of irresolution among professionals surrounding COVID-19 in regards to the potential of herd immunity and antigens.
The coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic is actually a mutation of previously established strains. SARS-Cov-2 is transmitted much more effectively and evidences an inconsistent incubation cycle compared to the virus that emerged in the early 2000s.
Medical reports premised by the newest strain have indicated severity might share a relationship with the location of contraction. Those who were infected directly from active fomites in The Wuhan Seafood market linked to the initial outbreak in China expressed higher viral loads than those infected by tertiary carriers.
From January 23, 2020, to February 19, 2020, the authors of the new PNAS report analyzed ten severe COVID-19 patients; six of whom were males and four of whom were females. The average age of the study group was 52.5. The participants began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms roughly six days after being infected with the SAR-Cov-2 virus and each agreed to take part in experimental CP transfusion treatment about ten days after the onset of prodromes.
Seven of the ten patients endured fevers, eight demonstrated a persistent cough and labored breathing, five cases produced sputum, two occasioned chest pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and one case reported a severe headache while another reported a severe sore throat.
Four of the patients had underlying chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular diseases and hypertension. Antibacterial or antifungal treatment was used when patients developed coinfection. Six patients received intravenous methylprednisolone every 24 hours.
Even with various aggravating factors at play, all ten patients benefited dramatically from CP transfusion.
One patient in particular, a middle-aged man with high blood pressure who was placed on a ventilator, had a blood-oxygen level of 86%, which is critically lower than the normal 95% to 100%.
One day after receiving immune antibodies, his blood tested negative for infection, his body’s inflammation levels decreased and his blood-oxygen level rose to 90%. The following day, he was weaned off of the ventilation machine.
All 10 patients were no longer critically ill within one to three days of receiving a plasma transfusion. Two of the three patients placed on ventilators no longer needed them in that same window.
For comparison, three of the 10 patients administered into intensive care at the same time as the experimental group passed away and only one fully recovered during the study period.
“This pilot study on [convalescent plasma] therapy shows a potential therapeutic effect and low risk in the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients,” the authors concluded. “One dose of [convalescent plasma] with a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies can rapidly reduce the viral load and tends to improve clinical outcomes,”