The Daily Dose: Bad news about convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19; Even worse news for college athletes infected by the coronavirus.

There’s some discouraging news coming out of India regarding the effectiveness of convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19. A recent study tried to address the paucity of actual quality data regarding the potential therapy. According to the Scientist, “the PLACID (PLAsma Convalescent InDia) trial helps fill this gap. Recently conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex medical research body in India, it is the first RCT for plasma in COVID-19 patients to be completed in the world. The study included 464 hospitalized, moderately ill COVID-19 patients—they were on supplemental oxygen but not critically ill with organ damage—across 39 medical centers between April 22 and July 14. The trial had two arms: an intervention arm, in which patients received two doses of 200 ml of convalescent plasma, 24 hours apart, along with standard of care, and a control arm that received standard of care alone… The results, posted as a preprint on September 8 with a revision posted two days later, signal that the use of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 patients did not forestall progression to severe disease or mortality.” While by no means a rejection of the technique, it does show that there is still much work to be done.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the worst in government treatment of scientists. Turkey is the latest country where the politicians have gone after the scientific community for simply doing its job. Per Science, “Critics say Turkish authorities are using judicial harassment and administrative investigations to stifle criticism and control information about the crisis. Since March, they have launched investigations against doctors, including leaders of local TTB chapters, after they discussed the government’s health policy and coronavirus information in traditional and social media.” Not the first, won’t be the last by any stretch.

College campuses around the world are reopening. In the United States, a country that has yet to get a firm grip on the pandemic, this has meant that returning students have imported COVID-19 into the surrounding communities. Per the Associated Press, “Among the 50 U.S. counties with the highest concentrations of students and overall populations of at least 50,000, 20 have consistently reported higher rates of new virus cases than their states have since Sept. 1, according to an Associated Press analysis. On average, infection rates in those 20 counties have been more than three times higher than their states’ overall rates.” Expect the trend to continue trending upwards.

And while we’re on the topic of American colleges, sports are a big source of income for universities. That’s why everyone involved in college sports has been pushing very hard to return to playing. NCAA football teams are returning to the field in increasing numbers. They’d better be careful though. A study published in JAMA has disturbing news about the lasting damage done by COVID-19 on college football players.“When they imaged the hearts of more than two dozen of Ohio State University players using cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR), they found evidence of myocarditis in 15 percent, while a further 30 percent had cellular damage or swelling that could not be linked definitively to the condition. In their report, the doctors offer an additional risk assessment tool for universities and professional sports agencies looking to balance the risk to their athletes against a desire to resume play.” Tread carefully everyone.

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