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Covid-19 plasma therapy trial results ‘disappointing’

Covid-19 plasma trial disappointment; Do other vaccines or other viruses provide Covid protection; Pros and cons of remote therapy; How long do coronavirus antibodies last?

For months now, many people hospitalised with Covid-19 have been given convalescent plasma – donated blood serum from people who’ve already had the illness. The hope has been that transfusing donated antibodies against the coronavirus will help to prevent deaths and serious illness. Convalescent plasma therapy received a high profile boost in the USA in August when the Trump administration announced emergency use authorisation for the treatment, despite the lack of robust evidence for its efficacy against the coronavirus. Now the results of the first completed randomised clinical trial of the therapy have been published in the British Medical Journal. The findings are not particularly encouraging. In this Indian study, there was no difference in the death rate or the progression from moderate to severe disease between patients given the therapy and those receiving only standard care. Claudia Hammond talks to Dr Aparna Mukherjee of the India Council of Medical Research and the BBC’s medicine and science correspondent James Gallagher about the prospects now for convalescent plasma therapy.

Health Check also asks whether vaccines against other diseases might provide some protection against the coronavirus, and features a report from California where a lot of mental health counselling has gone online or on the phone since the pandemic took hold. Reporter Alison Van Diggelen asks people with mental health problems and their therapists how they feel about the loss of face-to-face sessions.

Presenter: Claudia Hammond
Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

(Picture: An Iraqi phlebotomist holds a bag of plasma donated by a recovered Covid-19 patient. Photo credit: Asaad Niazi/AFP/Getty Images.)

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