Doctors have found tentative evidence that seriously ill coronavirus patients can benefit from infusions of blood plasma collected from people who have recovered from the disease.
Two teams of medics working at separate hospitals in China gave antibody-rich plasma to 15 severely ill patients and recorded striking improvements in many of them.
In one pilot study, doctors in Wuhan gave “convalescent plasma” to 10 severely ill patients and found that virus levels in their bodies dropped rapidly. Within three days, the doctors saw improvements in the patients’ symptoms, ranging from shortness of breath and chest pains to fever and coughs.
Another team of doctors led by Lei Liu, from Shenzhen Third People’s hospital, gave convalescent plasma to five critically ill patients. All showed improved symptoms after the infusions and within 10 days, three patients were able to come off the ventilators that had been keeping them alive, according to a preliminary report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings raise hopes that donated blood from recently recovered patients could be used to boost the immune systems of more vulnerable people and help them fight the infection.