WHO recommends restorative plasma to fight COVID-19 – Community News
Covid-19

WHO recommends restorative plasma to fight COVID-19

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The World Health Organization now advises against the use of a popular COVID-19 treatment.


What you need to know

  • Recovering plasma has been a popular COVID-19 treatment for the past year and a half
  • Using plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 was believed to help people suffering from the virus
  • However, the WHO announced on Tuesday that it is now not recommending the treatment outside of clinical trials

Restorative plasma was one of the first treatments created at the start of the pandemic in an effort to help the critically ill. But the WHO now says evidence shows that restorative plasma does not improve survival or reduce the need for mechanical ventilation for those battling COVID-19.

The restorative plasma treatment has been popular for the past year and a half, with COVID-19 survivors eager to help others beat the coronavirus.

Before James Crocker, he became seriously ill in March 2020 and later tested positive for coronavirus, just as news of COVID-19 first spread across the country. Once he recovered, he said he switched to a then-new form of COVID-19 treatment and began donating restorative plasma to help others.

“And a friend of a friend in Orlando had contracted the virus and was lying on what they thought was his deathbed. And after I donated plasma, he recovered literally three days later astonishingly,” Crocker said.

Seeing that rapid recovery, Crocker sprang into action and began coordinating recovery plasma donations in Florida and across the country through Plasma For Lives and said he had seen the success of the treatments in others.

“You know, I will always count my donations and the donations of others who participated besides me as a valuable part of the fight against this virus,” Crocker said.

Now, a year and a half after the pandemic, the World Health Organization now recommends the use of restorative plasma except in clinical trials for severe and critical COVID-19 patients.

It comes months after the FDA scaled back its own emergency authorization recommendation for plasma recovery in February, to cover only those hospitalized early and those patients whose immune system disorders don’t allow them to produce strong antibody responses.

“Early anecdotal reports showed it could be helpful, but later studies have shown almost conclusively that it doesn’t delay hospitalizations, it doesn’t prevent going to the ICU, it doesn’t alter the rate of death,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. . Michael Muszynski.

Muszynski said restorative plasma is expensive to produce and has a shorter shelf life as a blood product. And, he said, it’s not much needed now because monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to be much more effective at fighting COVID-19.

“I think across the country the use of restorative plasma will decrease or even stop, especially when we have other therapies that are more effective,” Muszynski said.

But others like Crocker, who have seen the impact that restorative plasma has had on those battling COVID-19, aren’t sure whether eliminating the treatment is the right decision.

“It seems there are a plethora of cases where restorative plasma made a difference,” Crocker said. “And in the end, I’ll leave that to the medical community to decide.”