Blood plasma transfusion from recovered patients, possible treatment against COVID-19

As scientists are scrambling to find a cure for the 2019 coronavirus disease or COVID-19, tests for two antiviral drugs and preliminary results are due in weeks. But the head of a Wuhan hospital revealed that plasma infusions from blood of recovered patients had shown some encouraging preliminary results. Could this be a viable treatment against the deadly infectious disease?

Blood plasma transfusion from recovered patients, possible treatment against COVID-19
Photo credit: Daily Mail UK

Currently, there are no fully licensed treatments or vaccines against the new coronavirus, mostly because it is a new strain. Scientists have to find a cure as quickly as they can, but the process of developing and testing drugs can take many months or even years!

Blood plasma treatment

A Chinese professor revealed that aside from the hospital in Wuhan, another hospital in Shanghai is doing the same thing. The doctors are using infusions of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to treat those who are still battling the infection. They reported that, so far, the results of the preliminary results are encouraging.

New treatments are being sought, including blood plasma transfusion from the recovered patients, Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre professor and co-director Lu Hongzhou revealed. A special clinic was set up at the hospital to administer plasma therapy. They are also responsible for selecting patients who were willing to donate. But they also have to make sure that the donors will be screened to check for other diseases like hepatitis B or C.

“We are positive that this method can be very effective in our patients,” Lu said with confidence.

Effective against other infectious diseases

WHO's health emergencies program Dr. Mike Ryan lauded the initiative, saying that blood plasma treatment has been proven “effective and life-saving” against other infectious diseases, including rabies and diphtheria.

“Because what hyperimmune globulin does is it concentrates the antibodies in a recovered patient. You are essentially giving the new victim's immune system a boost of antibodies to hopefully get them through the very difficult phase,” Ryan explained.

“So, it must be given at the right time, because it mops up the virus in the system, and it just gives the new patient's immune system a vital push at the time it needs it. But it has to be carefully timed and it's not always successful.”

And while it might not always cure the infected patients, Ryan believes that it is still a very important area to pursue, especially because there are still no antiviral drugs or treatment options licensed to treat COVID-19 cases.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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