Genesis tests convalescent plasma treatment on COVID-19 patients

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A local healthcare provider, Genesis, is using convalescent plasma to treat two of its COVID-19 patients.

Genesis Health System is collaborating with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center as part of Mayo Clinic clinical trial, to test the treatment on COVID-19 patients in the region.

The treatment involves using antibodies found in the plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19. These antibodies will then be “transfused into hospitalized patients with the goal of helping those patients boost their ability to fight the disease,” Genesis said in a press release.

“Convalescent plasma isn’t new,” Genesis infectious disease specialist and the principal investigator for the trial, Bharat Motwani, M.D., explained in the press release.

“The method has been used in the past to treat a wide range of diseases such as polio, measles, SARS, Ebola, H1N1 flu and measles in previous outbreaks. However, what is new, is the COVID-19 pandemic, and this provides a tool for us to at least fight back to keep the virus at bay until a vaccine can be developed.”

The healthcare provider said that its immediate goal is to “determine if convalescent plasma can improve the chance of recovery for people with the most severe illness.” Another goal would be to “test whether convalescent plasma can help keep people who are moderately sick from becoming sicker,” Genesis said in the release.

According to Louis Katz, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and chief medical officer with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, the therapy is unproven but “there are historic precedents that suggest modest efficacy in a number of other infectious diseases, including influenza.”

Individuals who want to donate must have laboratory-confirmed tests showing they had a COVID-19 infection and must be at least 28 days from recovery. Potential donors are asked to contact their physician to make a referral as a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor.

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