Washington, March 24 (EFE) .- The United States government has authorized doctors across the country to use blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to treat those in critical condition, in what some experts believe is the best solution while awaits the cure of Covid-19.
The new treatment was authorized on Tuesday by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency charged with approving the use of new drugs, vaccines and other public health products.
On its website, the FDA announced that the method can only be used on patients who are in critical condition and whose lives are in danger, and the doctors who administer it will have to ask for prior authorization.
The agency's decision is unusual, as it usually takes months to authorize new treatments and only does so when it has proven that the method is safe and effective. "Although promising, plasma has not been shown to be effective in the diseases studied," admitted the FDA in the note.
Before Covid-19, the technique was used to fight the Spanish flu of 1918, when vaccine use was not widespread, and recently it was also applied against the Ebola virus and the Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another type of coronavirus that left 774 dead in China between November 2002 and July 2003.
In the case of SARS, plasma helped to mitigate patients' symptoms and shortened their hospital stay, according to subsequent scientific studies. In addition, some doctors in China have also injected plasma for critically ill patients, and the results appear to be promising, according to initial studies.
The treatment stems from the idea that when a person becomes ill, the body generates antibodies that fight infection. So, when that person recovers, the antibodies stay in his blood, especially in the plasma. The treatment consists of collecting these antibodies that are floating in the plasma and injecting them into a sick person to help him fight the virus.
A group of American scientists, led by a team from Johns Hopkins University, has been pushing for the FDA to approve the use of plasma in patients infected with the new coronavirus.
One such researcher is Arthur Cassadeval, of Johns Hopkins, who in February, in an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal, considered that the use of plasma could help contain the pandemic pending the discovery of a vaccine, which it could take 12 to 18 months.
In New York, one of the states hardest hit by SARS-CoV-2, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, has said that the first steps will be taken this week to start using the method.
In the United States, more than 44,000 people were infected and at least 544 died, according to the official count.