In a major study, researchers have shown that convalescent plasma appears to be a safe and possibly effective treatment for children with life-threatening cases of Covid-19.
To date, no therapies have been proven safe and effective for children who develop life-threatening complications from contracting the SARS-COV-2 virus.
One possible treatment that has been explored in adults is the use of convalescent plasma, which is derived from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and can be administered in currently ill patients to generate an antibody response that renders the virus inert.
Early positive results were observed in adults who received convalescent plasma, but the treatment had not been studied in children.
"Some children who contract this virus can develop very serious complications, so even with limited data in adults, we believed it was worth exploring the use of convalescent plasma as a possible treatment option," said study author David Teachey from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the US.
This study is the first report of convalescent plasma in children with life-threatening Covid-19 and involved researchers in a wide variety of disciplines, including immune dysregulation, transfusion medicine, infectious disease, occupational health, critical care, haematology, oncology, immunology, and rheumatology.
The study, published in the journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer, involved four patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.
The researchers measured donor antibody levels and recipient antibody response prior to and following the convalescent plasma infusion to determine whether there were any adverse reactions.
In the four patients that were studied, the use of convalescent plasma was not associated with antibody-dependent enhancement, in which antibodies developed during a previous infection cause a worsened response with subsequent infections, a concern that has been described in preclinical models of other coronaviruses.
Additionally, convalescent plasma did not suppress endogenous antibody response.
"We believe that convalescent plasma may provide the greatest benefit for patients who are early into their illness and have not yet generated endogenous antibodies," Teachey said.
"While the small sample size of our study does not allow us to draw any definitive conclusions, we believe this method is safe," Teachey added.
The researchers noted that future research should include randomised controlled trials to more definitively examine how effective convalescent plasma may be in treating children infected with Covid-19.
Last month, a study published in the American Journal of Pathology, found that people treated early in their illness with donated plasma that has the highest concentration of anti-Covid-19 antibodies are more likely to survive and recover.