Known as convalescent plasma therapy (CP), the treatment uses blood from recovered patients. Ten COVID-19 patients in China who were critically ill received a dose of plasma from survivors of the virus, who had the antibodies their immune systems needed to fight the virus.
“All the symptoms in the 10 patients, especially fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, disappeared or greatly improved in 1 [day] at 3 [days] during the PC transfusion, “said the study, published in a reputable journal called Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.
The study was conducted in Wuhan, China – where the coronavirus emerged in December – and was chaired by Kai Duan of National Biotec Group Co. Ltd.
The therapy is not new: it was first used a century ago during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The process is approved in the United States and many doctors believe it can help people already infected with SARS-CoV-2. A vaccine is in 12 to 18 months, according to most experts, but CP therapy is inexpensive and readily available because it simply uses the blood of infected and healed people. CP therapy has also been used to combat SARS and MERS, two similar coronaviruses and Ebola.
“The recovery criteria were as follows: 1) normal body temperature for more than 3 [days], 2) resolution of the symptoms of the respiratory tract, and 3) two consecutive negative results of sputum SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR test (1-[day] sampling interval). Donor’s blood was drawn after 3 [weeks] after illness and 4 days after discharge, “said the study.
There are nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 83,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Scientists are also quickly working on a simple blood test to find out who has had the virus before – and who therefore has antibodies and is immune.
“Some of you may have had it already,” Dr. David Agus, a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California, told The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday. “There will soon be a test to see who has immunity, who got the virus. This test should be out in the next few days, and it will be the key to understanding what’s going on in the country. “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already started preliminary studies to find out how many Americans have already been infected with the virus.
“The first, which has already started, will be to examine blood samples from people who have never been diagnosed as cases in some of the country’s Covid-19 hotspots to see how far the virus has circulated,” said reported on Saturday STAT. “Later, a national survey, using samples from different parts of the country, will be carried out. A third will look at specific populations – healthcare workers are a top priority – to see how far the virus has spread within them. Bresee said the CDC hopes to start the national investigation this summer; he gave no timetable for the study of health workers. “
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also authorized the first blood test, known as a serological test, to look for antibodies in the blood. Cellex Inc., a medical device company based in North Carolina, says the test could help doctors determine the spread of the virus and how long people have immunity after recovery.
“Based on the body of scientific evidence available to the FDA, it is reasonable to believe that your product may be effective in diagnosing COVID-19,” wrote FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton in a letter. to James Li, CEO of Cellex. “The known and potential benefits of your product when used to diagnose COVID-19 outweigh the known and potential risks of your product. “
Having antibodies in the blood means that this person probably – but not definitively – has the virus and, for at least a certain period, will enjoy some immunity. This means that screening for antibodies could help identify who can safely return to the workforce.