Covid-19 Patients to Receive Convalescent Plasma from Survivors

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Who would have thought a century old technology of purified blood plasma therapy will be used to treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 resulting in a global pandemic?

In UK, Over 500 individuals who have had Covid-19 will undergo plasm blood transfusion from today to see whether antibodies from recovered patients will kill the virus and reduce active viral count in blood stream of Covid-19 patient. The trials of convalescent plasma treatment are initiated in over 10 hospitals in UK, each contestant receives two plasma units after collection of 994 units.

The blood plasma transfusion treatment uses the blood products containing antibodies against the virus from the patient who have had it and recovered. It involves injecting the blood plasma containing antibodies to patients who have not recovered so that they can get better after this. According to the medical literature, the first blood transfusion therapy was used in 1918 to fight off the global pandemic of Spanish flu. The results at that time showed 50% reduction in mortality among patients who were chronically ill and were more likely to die. Later, in 1934, a Pennsylvania boarding school, measles outbreak occurred. It was halted when the blood serum collected from the first recovered student was given to rest of the 62 students. Results showed that only 3 of the 62 students developed mild symptoms of measles later.

The most recent case of using blood trans fusion therapy as a treatment has been during the outbreaks of avian flue and Ebola. Recently in Georgia, US , a drug pharmaceutical company Takeda claimed to develop a drug derived from blood plasma of recovered patients to treat the novel coronavirus. The idea of this drug was to develop antibodies in active patients by injecting antibodies from recovered patients which may strengthen the immune system.

Early this year in February, in Shanghai, China, doctors set up a clinical trial and administered the recuperative convalescent plasma in patients newly infected with the Covid-19.  An infectious disease expert and a physician, Greg Poland, Mayo Clinic, Rochester stated,

In China, we have only heard anecdotal reports of encouraging results. Nothing has been published yet, but this approach is definitely worth trying.

In UK, A 45-year-old Nicole Green from Widnes, donated her recuperative plasma at Liverpool Donor Centre. She had experienced a serves headaches, fever, and cough along with fatigue. She stayed for two days in the hospital. There are more than 200 individuals like her who developed the virus and recovered and volunteered to donate their plasma containing antibodies to treat currently active patients of Covid-19. However, it is hard to say whether the trails will be successful and remains uncertain till the trails ends. The NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) claimed that if this treatment intervention proved successful the therapy will be scaled up to more hospitals nationally.

At London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, where the trails are being run, a critical consultant from there named Dr Manu Shankar-Hari said,

What we are doing is to give you instantaneous protection against the virus using an antibody that is developed by patients who recover from the virus. So, the hope is that the viral clearance or the taking away of the virus in the body will be quicker by giving this treatment.

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