Researchers in China have been experimenting with using blood plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 as a possible way to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients. In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, clinicians reported that convalescent plasma therapy improved the outcomes of ten patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
“It’s consistent with what I’m hearing from other places,” Michael Joyner, a physiologist at Mayo Clinic who is leading a convalescent plasma clinical trial in the US and wasn’t involved in the study from China, told The Wire Science.
In convalescent plasma therapy, a dose of antibody-containing plasma obtained from the blood of recovered individuals is transferred to persons with the disease in order to treat it. It’s an experimental therapy going back a hundred years, having found use – to different efficacies – in the treatment of the Spanish flu as well as, more recently, the 2009 H1N1 influenza, SARS and MERS viruses.
Convalescent plasma could shorten the duration of a COVID-19 illness or render it less dangerous. The therapy can be administered at different stages: after exposure to a known carrier but before infection to boost immunity, and to critically and non-critically ill patients to improve their outcomes.
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