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20. COVID-19: Does Convalescent Plasma Work?




"We don't even know if plasma has all the juice we need to fight this infection"
-Tom DeLoughery, MD

Convalescent plasma has been a hot button news story over the past few weeks since the FDA approved its use in COVID patients. In this episode, hematologist Tom DeLoughery breaks down what it is, what it purportedly does, the evidence (or lack thereof) supporting its use, at what point in disease it might work, and potential dangers of indiscriminate use.

Guest Bio: Tom DeLoughery is a hematologist and Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University. He is the author of The Hemostasis and Thrombosis Textbook and an internationally recognized expert and speaker on blood disorders. On a personal note, Tom has been my mentor for all things hematologic over the past decade and is a regular guest on our clinical medical program ERcast.


Brought to you by Mar-Med. More on that below.



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We Discuss:

  • What is convalescent plasma (CP)? [04:06];

  • How plasmapheresis can collect large volumes of donor plasma [4:53];

  • Donating plasma (and losing antibodies) probably doesn't one more susceptible to infection [5:32]

  • The potential folly of using CP in only the sickest patients and why it might be better used at the beginning of illness [06:25];

  • How much immunity a single unit of plasma might provide [10:51];

  • Adverse consequences of plasma use [12:00];

  • Does CP actually work? [14:16];

  • Would Tom want CP if he got COVID? [21:35];

  • What we’ve learned from the massive effort to accelerate CP collection [23:02];

  • And More.


Bonus Section: Tom's photos from a recent trip to Yellowstone




Double Bonus

Tom's Montana bakery recommendations:


Articles discussed in this episode:

  • Joyner, Michael J., et al. "Safety update: COVID-19 convalescent plasma in 20,000 hospitalized patients." Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Elsevier, 2020.

  • Joyner, Michael J., et al. "Evidence favouring the efficacy of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 therapy." medRxiv (2020).


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