PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Studies of blood plasma treatments in COVID-19 patients continue as one local patient said it helped him recover, while a USF researcher told Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway the treatment could do more harm than good in some patients.
COVID-19 survivor Allen Flexon spent 10 days hospitalized in July.
“They talked about putting me on ICU on a ventilator,” said Allen.
Allen told ABC Action News his health turned around after receiving blood plasma treatment and he was able to return home to finish recovering.
Blood plasma is getting a boost after the FDA approved the expanded use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients on Sunday.
But it’s still unknown how effective the treatment is.
Dr. Chris Politis, the chief medical officer at Largo Medical Center, said he’s seen some positive benefits in the 35 patients treated with blood plasma. But he also said not all of the patients treated with the plasma survived.
Largo Medical Center is one of more than 170 HCA-owned hospitals across the country taking part in a Mayo Clinic study on blood plasma. The national study includes 1,500 patients so far.
“We are hoping we will have some definitive results later on this year,” said Dr. Politis
But questions about the treatment remain. USF researcher Dr. Michael Teng studies the transmission of respiratory viruses.
He said plasma treatments can cause allergic reactions and lung damage in some patients. He also told ABC Action News he is concerned about the lack of scientific evidence that it actually works.
“There's still a significant number of people dying, so it is not that magic bullet,” said Dr. Teng.
Dr. Teng said there are already scientifically proven drugs, including a steroid, that has proven effective in the battle against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, researchers said the results of the national Mayo Clinic study on blood plasma could be available by December.