Convalescent plasma from a recovered coronavirus patient is seen at Central Seattle Donor Center of Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington.
Convalescent plasma from a recovered coronavirus patient is seen at Central Seattle Donor Center of Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington. Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

Hospitalized Covid-19 patients appear to fare better when they receive infusions of antibody-filled convalescent plasma, according to a study released on Friday.

The study hasn’t been peer reviewed or published in an academic journal, but researchers said the findings are a good sign for the plasma therapy, which is derived from the blood of recovered Covid-19 patients.

We are encouraged that our initial assessment offers evidence in support of convalescent plasma as an effective intervention,” said Dr. Nicole Bouvier, an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a co-author on the study, in a statement.

Researchers are “remaining mindful that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and draw more definitive conclusions in different populations,” she said.

The new study was small. It compared 39 patients who received convalescent plasma with “matched controls” – patients who didn’t receive plasma but were similar to those who did.

It wasn’t a traditional clinical trial because patients weren’t randomly assigned to a treatment group or a control group. Instead, the controls were picked after-the-fact using an algorithm.

Still, patients who received plasma saw improved survival. As of May 1, about 13% of patients who received the treatment had died, compared to 24% of those who didn’t.

The researchers said larger studies were needed, but they noted that the mortality benefit was limited to patients who didn’t need a breathing tube.

“We did not observe significant benefit of convalescent plasma in intubated patients, consistent with past literature demonstrating that passive antibody transfer therapies are most efficacious early in disease,” they wrote.

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