Promising Virus Treatment Involves Blood Donors

Plasma from people who have recovered from COVID might help
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2020 2:35 PM CDT
Promising Virus Treatment Involves Blood Donors
Phlebotomist Tamara Mosley, right, prepares Oklahoma State Sen. Paul Rosino to donate convalescent plasma at the Oklahoma Blood Institute in Oklahoma City on April 16, 2020. Rosino tested positive for the new coronavirus in March and has since recovered. OBI has created a statewide registry to collect...   (Nate Billings/The Oklahoman via AP)

The process is known as convalescent plasma, but the principle is simpler to state: Give blood from recovered coronavirus patients to those who are sick. The FDA is allowing such treatments to take place under "investigational" approval, and the numbers are growing, along with optimism, reports ABC News. So far, about 600 patients have received blood from recovered COVID-19 patients under a program led by the Mayo Clinic, and 1,600 sites around the nation have registered to provide the plasma. (That's "the yellow, liquid part of the blood where the potentially life-saving COVID antibodies may be," per ABC.) The program's protocol states that early results suggest "a single dose of 200 milliliters (just over 13 tablespoons full) showed benefit for some patients, leading to improvement."

This kind of treatment has long been used in the treatment of Ebola, SARS, and MERS, notes the Hill, and a big advantage is that it is relatively quick and easy. Small tests out of China provide hope that it might help with COVID-19, too, though no definitive clinical trials have been completed. CBS News has the stories of two patients (men, ages 52 and 76) who recovered after receiving plasma treatment. Both families used Facebook to find donors. "Successes like the one we had today give us some hope that maybe we're onto something here," says Dr. Paul Sachs, the director of pulmonary medicine at Stamford Health in Connecticut. Adds a Johns Hopkins specialist: "We need to do the clinical trials to know when, if, and how to use it." (Rita Wilson says she and Tom Hanks are waiting to hear whether they can donate blood.)

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