THE first therapy gaining ground in the fight against coronavirus also happens to be the oldest: the transfusion of blood plasma from recovered patients into patients still suffering.
The technique worked on previous coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, and was also used successfully against the Spanish Flu of 1918 – report NIUS Diario.
Madrid’s Puerta de Hierro Hospital are currently testing the therapy on 300 patients from across the country. While the world waits for a vaccine, researchers believe the therapy could be vital to save lives in the meantime.
The logic is simple: plasma already contains antibodies against COVID-19 should defeat the coronavirus in the new patient.
Before having concrete results, however, the researchers have gathered promising news from at least three international studies.
(Plasma is isolated by centrifuging blood collected from donors.)
Success in China
In the biggest study of plasma to date, 10 patients in Wuhan in intensive care were given 200ml of plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
Every one of them recovered from pulmonary lesions caused by the coronavirus within seven days. There were no secondary effects.
The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, showed that the greater the antibodies in the plasma, the better the therapy.
A total of 40 donors had their blood taken just four days after overcoming COVID-19 – meaning antibodies would still be present in high numbers in the plasma.
The 10 patients who recovered from the therapy were tested against a control group who received standard treatments. The control group fared worse in their fight against the disease, according to the study.
Spain’s ongoing trials could be massive in the fight against coronavirus, as the study includes a much bigger group of patients: 300.
France has reportedly begun trials with 60 patients. In the United States, the therapy has been approved and is already in use experimentally in New York city.