Coronavirus survivors’ blood plasma could be
used to fight infection
Doctors have drawn up plans to infuse British coronavirus patients and their
carers with blood plasma harvested from “hyperimmune” people who have
recovered from the infection in an attempt to save lives.
The experimental treatment will be directed at patients who are admitted to
hospital with pneumonia caused by the virus in the hope that it reduces the
number who end up on ventilators in intensive care units (ICUs).
Those in close contact with Covid-19 patients, such as NHS staff and family
members, are also in line to be offered the treatment in an effort to stem the
spread of the illness and further reduce pressure on the health service.
The procedure relies on the fact that people who have recovered from Covid-19
have antibodies in their blood plasma that maintain a defence against the
infection. The aim is to identify those who are “hyperimmune” to the virus and
invite them to donate blood for the treatment.
So-called “convalescent plasma” would be given to patients and their contacts in a
number of clinical trials that are under consideration with medical funding bodies.
Prof David Tappin, a senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow, has
applied to the National Institute for Health Research to run two clinical trials with
“Start-up will need to be faster than is normal, with most other trials usually
taking months or years to get approvals and to begin,” he said.
The trials will look for evidence that convalescent plasma can reduce infections in
carers so they can continue their work, prevent patients deteriorating to the point
that they require ventilation in ICUs, and improve the condition of those who are
already severely ill, to reduce deaths and free up the much-needed ventilators, he
“Trials need to be undertaken, otherwise we will not know if this intervention is
effective and worthwhile,” Tappin said. “It may not be a silver bullet, or it may