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Blood of Recovered Coronavirus Patients Could Be Used for Protection from COVID–19 Infection

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Mar 2020
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Researchers from John Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) have proposed that the use of blood from recovered coronavirus patients could provide short-term protection against COVID–19. The experts on infectious diseases have published a new paper which explains how viral antibodies present in the blood serum of patients who have recovered from the new coronavirus can be injected into other people in order to protect them for the short-term.

This medical remedy is called passive antibody therapy and was used to control measles, polio, mumps, and influenza outbreaks in the 20th century. The researchers from Johns Hopkins University have suggested that the medical remedy can now be used to control COVID–19 and make antibody therapies available quickly. In passive antibody therapy, coronavirus patients who have recovered would donate their blood after recovering from COVID–19 as well as while still convalescing from the disease. In this phase, the blood serum contains high amounts of natural antibodies that are produced to fight against the SARS-CoV–2 virus.

After the body produces such antibodies in response to pathogens, they can continue to circulate in the blood for months and years after an infection. These antibodies can be extracted and processed for injecting into other people for short-term benefits, especially in patients who are at a serious risk, an infected patient’s family members who are still uninfected, or boosting the immunity of medical workers who are the most highly exposed to the pathogen.

According to the researchers, modern blood banking techniques can be used to screen for other infectious agents possibly present in the blood, thus posing a low risk for healthy people, particularly considering the threats arising from COVID–19 for which there are no vaccines or drugs as of now.

The researchers have suggested convalescent sera can be used as an emergency response for protection against COVID–19, similar to the way it was trialled against other coronaviruses, such as SARS1 and MERS. The large scale of the COVID–19 pandemic in comparison to the earlier smaller outbreaks would ensure sufficient convalescent sera supplies due to the increased number of patients recovered from the coronavirus who can supply their blood.

Passive antibody therapy could help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic while other treatments are being developed. There is little clarity over the amount of convalescent serum that would be required for effectively protecting people, although unconfirmed media reports from China have indicated that such a therapy has been delivering results in the region. The John Hopkins University has now begun funding efforts for setting up antibody therapy operations for COVID–19.

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