Approval of blood plasma as COVID-19 treatment on hold – reports

The emergency approval of blood plasma as a potential treatment for coronavirus by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been put on hold, according to reports.

Convalescent plasma is rich in antibodies in patients who have recovered from coronavirus, and can be given to those who are struggling to develop their own immune response.

Citing two senior administration officials, the The New York Times says a group of top federal health experts – including Dr Anthony Fauci, who’s leading the US response to the disease – have argued that the emerging data on the treatment is too weak, but emergency approval could still be granted in the near future.

After a virus, your plasma contains antibodies that are used to help fight infection
Image:After a virus, your plasma contains antibodies that are used to help fight infection

The newspaper says H. Clifford Lane, the clinical director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said authorisation is on hold for now as more data is reviewed.

An FDA emergency-use authorisation of plasma could allow faster access to a therapy for the disease.

It said: “Per policy, we are not able to comment on whether or not we will take any action regarding emergency use authorisation for convalescent plasma.”

The NIH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Trials to treat COVID-19 using blood plasma from recovered patients have begun in the UK.

The first 14 units from former coronaviruspatients have been supplied to three NHS trusts, and transfusions have already taken place.

The trial will aim to look at the effectiveness of the plasma as a treatment for COVID-19, with more hospitals taking part in the test over the coming months.

In April, Health Secretary Matt Hancockdonated plasma to a clinical trial.

Matt Hancock
Image:Matt Hancock donated blood plasma in April. Pic Matt Hancock/Twitter

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The cabinet minister, who is among a number of MPs to have contracted COVID-19, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has encouraged others to take part in the medical research, saying it is “painless”.

So-called convalescent plasma was used as an effective treatment during the 2003 outbreak of SARS.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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