Washington University Gets FDA Clearance to Test Century-Old Idea on COVID-19 Patients

Researchers at Missouri’s Washington University in St. Louis are on the verge of a breakthrough treatment for people suffering from COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signed off on the emergency use of “convalescent plasma,” the process of taking blood from survivors of a disease and using the antibodies they develop to treat critically ill patients.

“This is a stone-age approach for the modern age,” said Dr. Jeffery Henderson, a physician and researcher with the Washington University School of Medicine. “The immune system of somebody who’s already seen the disease can be used to give an assist to somebody who hasn’t yet seen the disease.”

While researchers agree that this method will be unable to cure an individual of the disease, it can prevent the disease for a short period of time, and possibly make its symptoms less severe. The doctor stresses that when they start trying this treatment, only recovered patients with a documented positive test and two weeks of being symptom-free will be eligible to donate their plasma to help other people.

“In medicine … to use some St. Louis metaphors … we’re always going for a home run,” Henderson said. “But I think it’s important we don’t forget about getting base hits every so often as well. And I think this is perhaps an example of that.”

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