Convalescent plasma from a patient with recovered coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is seen at the Central Seattle Donor Center of Bloodworks Northwest during the outbreak in Seattle, Washington on April 17, 2020.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that they had abandoned a study testing convalescent plasma in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms after an independent panel of experts concluded it was unlikely to be beneficial.
The independent data and safety watchdog met on February 25 to review the data and found that while plasma treatment did no harm, it was unlikely to be of benefit to this patient population, the NIH said in a press release. After the meeting, the DSMB recommended that the NIH no longer enroll new patients in the study, the agency said.
Scientists and public health officials had previously said they were skeptical that convalescent plasma would be an effective treatment for patients with Covid, even after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency approval for the treatment in August and former President Donald Trump said it was ” Breakthrough “denounced. “
At the time, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said the treatment could help patients but “doesn’t look like a home run”. He agreed that convalescent plasma “certainly” met the standard for an emergency permit “in the context of a public health emergency.”
The plasma taken from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and who have developed antibodies to the virus is infused into sick patients. Scientists had hoped it would help boost immune systems in these patients to fight the virus.
In January, REMAP-CAP, an international clinical trial investigating possible treatments for Covid, discontinued the study testing convalescent blood plasma after the study’s examiners found no benefit. The decision by REMAP-CAP was made after an initial analysis of more than 900 critically ill study participants in the intensive care unit showed that treatment with the product did not noticeably improve the health of the patients.
The NIH study was conducted in 47 US hospitals emergency departments and had 511 of the 900 participant recruitment targets enrolled. After study participants received either the plasma or a placebo, the researchers tracked whether participants needed additional emergency or urgent treatment, had to be hospitalized, or died within 15 days of the start of the study.