The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against using plasma containing Covid-19 antibodies to treat patients with the virus, finding it ineffective and a waste of resources.
In an opinion published by the BMJ on Monday evening, WHO experts warned that “A blood plasma transfusion from a person who has recovered from covid-19” – known as convalescent plasma therapy – “not recommended for patients with covid-19.”
The organization issued a particularly “strong recommendation” against therapy for people with mild Covid-19 illness and a general recommendation against it for people with severe or critical illness.
“Despite its initial promise, current evidence shows that it does not improve survival or reduce the need for mechanical ventilation, and is expensive and time consuming to administer.” said the opinion, citing evidence from 16 trials and more than 16,000 patients.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health issued a similar decision in August, revealing that clinical trials have shown the therapy “Did not prevent disease progression in a high-risk group of ambulatory patients with COVID-19, when administered within the first week of their symptoms.” “
Clifton Callaway, MD, Ph.D., who worked on the trial, said the researchers hoped the plasma therapy “Would achieve at least a 10% reduction in disease progression”, but instead observed a reduction of less than 2%.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma therapy in August 2020, but limited its use in February to only “Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 early in the course of the disease or hospitalized patients with impaired humoral immunity. “