Convalescent plasma programs ending after WHO says its no longer useful to treat COVID


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The World Health Organization says convalescent plasma is no longer of use in treating COVID-19. 

In a memo released Tuesday, the organization recommended against the use of plasma to treat patients battling the virus.

“That’s what the WHO basically saying at this point in time is that the studies that have been done for convalescent plasma didn’t show what they considered the endpoints, immortality and progression of disease were not necessarily affected,” said Dr. Robert Rainer, medical director at Blood Connection.

Just a little over a year ago, the organization and many others were in dire need of the plasma. Research showed the transfusion of blood from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 could help with hospitalized patients. 

“In the early days of COVID in 2019 when it was just coming out, we didn’t have any treatment and this is all we had,” Rainer said. “COVID was a world class sprinter in 100-yard dash and this gave you kind of a 50-yard head start.”

Since then, he says studies have shown the plasma has had little impact in treating the virus.

Although the blood center still collects plasma the demand from hospitals is low. 

“Some people it works very well, and in some people it did not work very well in. Some of the issues we had in the early times was we didn’t have the ability to filter the product, so we didn’t know how much antibody was actually there.”

Instead, researchers are looking at other forms of treatment.

“As time went on, we developed the monoclonal antibodies so this is a manufactured product. It’s something we know we have so many antibodies present in there and were able to infuse that into folks and get a better response.”

Hospitals like Wake Med say it’s helping.

A spokesperson says so far they say they’ve given out 4,000 infusions and it’s prevented 250 hospitalizations.

The Food and Drug Administration has also limited the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. Organizations like the Red Cross have since discontinued their convalescent plasma program. 

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