The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly nearing a decision to issue an emergency use authorization to use convalescent plasma for treating coronavirus patients.
While hospitals and doctors have been using the experimental therapy as part of studies or under compassionate use protocols, the move by the FDA would allow for easier and more widespread use.
Plasma, the liquid portion of blood, is rich in proteins and antibodies and has been used to treat other outbreaks including SARS, MERS and ebola.
While more research is needed to prove its effectiveness against coronavirus, anecdotal evidence suggests it works. "It is believed that plasma contains part of the survivor's immune system that can be used to help somebody who is currently sick with COVID-19 to recover more quickly," explains Dr. Eric Gehrie of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Unfortunately, the supply of plasma is running low. As coronavirus cases have spiked, the Red Cross has seen hospital demand for convalescent plasma more than double, reducing supply by more than 70-percent. As a result, they’re issuing a plea for donors.