How Blood from Coronavirus Survivors Might Save Lives
Hospitals in New York City are gearing up to use the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 as a possible antidote for the disease. Researchers hope that the century-old approach of infusing patients with the antibody-laden blood of those who have survived an infection will help the metropolis—now the US epicentre of the outbreak—to avoid the fate of Italy, where intensive-care units (ICUs) are so crowded that doctors have turned away patients who need ventilators to breathe.
The efforts follow studies in China that attempted the measure with plasma—the fraction of blood that contains antibodies, but not red blood cells—from people who had recovered from COVID-19. But these studies have reported only preliminary results so far. The convalescent plasma approach has also seen modest success during past severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Ebola outbreaks—but US researchers are hoping to increase the value of the treatment by selecting donor blood that is packed with antibodies and giving it to the patients who are most likely to benefit.