New York – Three New York medical institutions will conduct a clinical study to determine if the “convalescent plasma” of survivors of COVID-19, including members of the Young Israel synagogue in New Rochelle, where there were the first cases, could help to patients suffering from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
El Montefiore, a system of 11 hospitals; the Albert Einstein medical school, which is included in that network, and the NYU Langone hospital reported this joint investigation on Wednesday, in which 300 people with respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 will participate.
Half of the participants will receive plasma with antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, while the rest will receive a placebo, the health centers explained in a joint statement.RELATED
Montefiore’s first convalescent plasma donors came from the Young Israel synagogue in New Rochelle, the community that hosted one of the country’s largest cores of COVID-19 cases and which “now represent a ray of hope,” according to institutions.
Candidates for the clinical trial will be patients who have had respiratory symptoms for less than a week, who require supplemental oxygen, or who have remained in the hospital for less than four days, the note said.
Hospitals recalled that the body’s immune response to virus infections includes the manufacture of molecules called antibodies, which help prevent patients from becoming infected again in the future.
They could also be an effective therapy to combat the virus in COVID-19 patients, they say in the statement.
They explain that this treatment, known as convalescent plasma therapy, has already been applied in the past century during outbreaks of viral infections and has demonstrated its potential both in reducing the most severe symptoms of the disease and in improving survival rates.
“We created this study from tests of the (so-called) pre-antibiotic era, but there is still no scientific evidence that it will be truly effective,” said Dr. Liise-Anne Pirofski, director of Infectious Diseases at Montefiore and Albert Einstein, and leader of the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, as this research is called.
“Having so many healed people ready to donate their plasma and make this research possible to help others they have never met represents a true celebration of the human spirit,” Pirofski said.
Previous studies suggest that survivor plasma may be a useful treatment for other coronavirus cases, including SARS, but this trial aims to generate evidence that it is effective for COVID-19 patients.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Montefiore system has successfully treated approximately 4,000 seriously ill COVID-19 patients in its hospitals.
This represents a great opportunity to obtain plasma from former patients and apply their antibodies to the treatment of a community disproportionately affected by the virus, the hospitals also indicate.
“It is possible that vaccines will not be available for more than a year. Meanwhile, and in the absence of natural immunity and vaccines, plasma therapy could provide the body with the necessary elements to fight infection,” he said by his Dr. Mila Ortigoza, from NYU Langone, also leader of the investigation.
“Infections that jump from animals to humans, like the new coronavirus, are dangerous because we don’t have antibodies that fight them, hence our interest in knowing whether administering them could save lives,” he said.