SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment for COVID-19 called a convalescent plasma treatment. It requires transfusing blood from a person who has recovered from the illness to a person currently infected by it.
However, the treatment isn't available to all patients and it's still being tested.
The VERIFY team broke down exactly what this treatment this and why it's not available to every patient yet.
The FDA says this treatment could transfer antibodies that fight the virus from a person who recovered from the disease to a sick person. This doesn't teach the body how to fight the infection like a vaccine would, it just transfers some tools to fight directly into the body.
The treatment has been used by Chinese doctors for over a month. In a Reuters article published back in February, Shanghai doctors saw some "encouraging preliminary results."
However, the United States FDA just approved this method to be used by American doctors on Tuesday. It was only just approved because it's not guaranteed to work.
While studies have shown this treatment's effectiveness in fighting some other respiratory infections, but it hasn't shown effectiveness in every disease study. In order to determine its effectiveness in fighting COVID-19, the FDA needs to conduct clinical trials.
Since clinical trials won't be available to every patient, the FDA is permitting access to this treatment for people with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. The FDA clarified in a news release what they mean by serious or life-threatening.
Doctors can't just give a patient this treatment either. A patient must provide informed consent to receive this treatment.
So there's a chance this treatment could help people fighting this disease. However, it's still being tested for its effectiveness. Therefore, it's availability is limited.
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