MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Mayo Clinic is reporting positive news when it comes to the use of convalescent plasma while treating patients suffering the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

Researchers say that the timing of plasma transfusions in a group of more than 35,000 patients was associated with lower mortality rates. Furthermore, researchers say they found lower mortality rates associated with the use of plasma transfusions that contained higher levels of antibodies against the COVID-19 virus.

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The trends were noted both within the seven-day mortality rate of patients involved, as well as the 30-day mortality rate.

The convalescent plasma program at Mayo Clinic has been in the works since not long after the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Minnesota.Convalescent plasma treatment involves transfusing blood plasma from someone who recovered from COVID-19 and showed antibodies against the virus.

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In June, the Mayo Clinic announced the results of their studies which found using convalescent plasma to treat patients with COVID-19 appeared to be safe for a diverse range of patients. That report assessed patients at risk for severe or life-threatening effects from the virus, seven days after their plasma transfusion. They found mortality rates declined to 8.6%, compared to to 12% from a previous safety study. Serious side effects occurred in less than 1% of patients, or 146 out of the 20,000 involved in the study.

The Mayo says the results are a promising step in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, but the safety report stops short of declaring convalescent plasma therapy as an effective treatment option. Joyner says that would require more studies to take into account patient severity, the quality of the plasma, and outcomes compared to patients who did not get plasma.

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Researchers still need people who have tested positive for antibodies to donate blood plasma.