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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Plasma For Change

Jovial cartoon depiction of a drop of blood.
Jovial cartoon depiction of a drop of blood.

How blood plasma could be the key to battling COVID-19

Experimental research analyzing the effects of transfusing the convalescent plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients into critically ill individuals with the hope of increasing recovery rates has become a hot button topic.

In August, the FDA reported that the plasma of recuperating patients may contain antibodies capable of fighting off the infection and with uncertainty surrounding the possibility of a vaccine in the near future, it was concluded that the benefits of treatment via plasma far outweigh potential risks.

The donations of those who have not been infected with the new coronavirus are still crucial in fighting other diseases. Since the onset of the pandemic, donor centers have seen a dramatic reduction in contributions due to the cancellation of blood drives and the implementation of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

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University of South Carolina’s College of Pharmacy Student Society of Health System Pharmacists recently partnered with The Blood Connection to hold a Convalescent Plasma Blood Drive with faculty, staff and student participation. The drive was successful, totaling 33 units of plasma.

In order to donate, potential donors must be symptom free for at least 14 days, meaning that a negative covid test does not automatically qualify one for donation.

While blood plasma has provided a beacon of hope for some, government healthcare leaders such as Dr. Anthony Fauci urged caution, citing insufficient data on the effectiveness of blood plasma as a treatment. Despite warnings the FDA’s emergency approval of convalescent plasma therapy was authorized as an investigational product under certain guidelines, due to a lack of alternative treatment options.

In early September a study published by the British Medical Journal (BJM) found no significant difference in the health outcomes of blood plasma recipients versus patients who did not receive the treatment.

Dr. Ron Elfenbein, a general practitioner, pushed back on skepticism and stated a case in favor of blood plasma on CBS news in late August.

“Convalescent plasma has been used to treat well over 75,000 people by the Mayo Clinic, according to the emergency use authorization, which was just released by the FDA, they claim that there is a 35% improvement in survival with using this treatment,” Elfenbein said.” The detractors say that there is not enough data….there’s never been a randomized controlled trial done with this and that’s true…. but if you use historical norms we’ve been using convalescent plasma as a treatment for viruses and other illnesses since the 1890s and it’s been very effective.”

Written by Nehmiah Broadie

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