The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said that using blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 survivors to treat other patients infected by the virus is still considered to be an experimental therapy as there is ‘ still very low-quality evidence’ about its effectiveness.
WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said convalescent plasma therapy has been used in the last century to treat numerous infectious diseases, with varying levels of success.
Her remark came after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency authorization to use plasma to treat COVID-19 patients.
Swaminathan says WHO still considers convalescent plasma therapy to be experimental and said it should continue to be evaluated.
She added that the treatment is difficult to standardize, since people produce different levels of antibodies and the plasma must be collected individually from recovered patients.
“The results are not conclusive. At the moment, it’s still very low-quality evidence,”Swaminathan said.
The scientist also claimed that plasma therapy should not be considered a new standard of care for coronavirus infections and that more data from studies will be available in the coming months.
“Of course, countries can do an emergency listing if they feel the benefits outweigh the risks,” she said.
“But that’s usually done when you’re waiting for the more definitive evidence,” she added.
However, many states in India have not only backed the plasma therapy but have set up plasma banks as well.
Convalescent plasma is a century-old treatment that was used to fight off flu and measles outbreaks in the days before vaccines, and was tried more recently during the Ebola outbreak.
Moreover, plasma therapy still remains part of the investigational treatments for COVID-19 as per ICMR guidelines
A study on plasma therapy that is being done by the ICMR is still yet to be published.