• Can COVID-19 Survivor Plasma Help Others?

Can COVID-19 Survivor Plasma Help Others?

Jul 02 2020 Read 1131 Times

As scientists around the world race to find a vaccine for COVD-19, Johns Hopkins University professor and infectious disease specialist Arturo Casadevall says the blood plasma of recovered patients could help fight off the disease. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, with Casadevall saying the report could be “the most important paper” of his career.

A Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Casadevall explores how microbes cause disease and how hosts protect themselves against these disease-causing microbes.

Harvesting antibody-rich blood plasma

Working with infectious disease specialist Liise-anne Pirofski from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Casadevall says blood plasma extracted from recovered COVID-19 patients is rich in antibodies. He says these antibodies could be used to fight off SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes the COVID-19 disease.

The concept of collection blood plasma isn’t new, with the therapy used during the Spanish flu of 1918. Fast, efficient and affordable, the infrastructure needed to harvest and distribute blood plasma already exists around the world. As a result, Casadevall and Pirofski are urging institutions to “begin preparations as soon as possible” and prepare for the second wave. “I think that it has a high likelihood [of working] based on history,” says Casadevall.

Lower mortality rates for plasma recipients

Similar studies have been conducted in China, with a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences positioning convalescent plasma (CP) transfusion as a “promising rescue option for severe COVID-19” cases. Another study at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan recorded a 12.8% mortality rate for plasma recipients and 24.4% for the control group.

“Convalescent plasma transfusion is a potentially efficacious treatment option for patients hospitalised with COVID-19; however, these data suggest that non-intubated patients may benefit more than those requiring mechanical ventilation,” reads the report abstract.

Moving forward, experts are calling for fast tracked clinical trials to explore the potentially therapeutic benefits of blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.

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