Tabibi S, et al. J Intensive Care Med 2020.
In the 5 months since initial reports of COVID-19 came to light, the death toll due to SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly increased. The morbidity and mortality of the infection varies based upon patient age, comorbid conditions, viral load, and the availability of effective treatments. Findings from limited autopsies, clinical observations, and laboratory data suggest that high cytokine levels and a procoagulant state can precipitate acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome in critically ill patients. To complicate matters, comorbidities may affect the response to medical treatments currently in use, all of which are still in trial phase. Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) merits consideration in the treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients and is an avenue for clinical trials to pursue. If efficacious, faster recovery of patients may lead to shorter intensive care unit stays and less time on mechanical ventilation. Herein, we briefly discuss some of the various approaches currently being investigated for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on potential benefits of TPE for selected critically ill patients.