As more people recover from COVID-19, that means more people should have antibodies against the virus. And it's possible that blood donatio
As more people recover from COVID-19, that means more people should have antibodies against the virus. And it’s possible that blood donations from those survivors could help protect or treat other people, according to some infectious disease experts.
The general notion is far from new. In the first half of the 20th century, doctors used “convalescent serum” in an effort to treat people during outbreaks of viral infections like measles, mumps and influenza — including during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
The therapy, known as convalescent plasma, takes advantage of the virus-fighting antibodies that are present in people’s blood after they recover from the illness, according to NBC News.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — with no vaccine or antiviral drug coming soon — antibodies from recovering patients could provide a “stopgap” measure, according to Drs. Arturo Casadevall and Liise-anne Pirofski.
For the trial, researchers would collect plasma — the liquid portion of blood that does not include blood cells or platelets — from recovered COVID-19 patients. Researchers would then harvest antibodies against the new coronavirus from the plasma, and these antibodies would then be injected into people sick with COVID-19. The study researchers will then evaluate whether convalescent plasma improves disease outcomes.
The trial, which officials plan to start this week, would only treat people who are seriously ill with COVID-19. Recruiting for plasma donors would likely start in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City where many of the state’s initial cases occurred, according to NBC.
Casadevall, of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Pirofski, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, lay out their case in the March 16 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
For one, the authors pointed out, convalescent serum is not a thing of the past. It has been tried in limited numbers of patients during more-recent viral crises, including the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic, the 2009 “swine flu” epidemic, and the 2012 outbreak of MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Reports on those attempts indicate the antibody treatment generally reduced the severity of patients’ illnesses and improved survival