Using convalescent blood to treat Covid-19: The whys and hows


SOME researchers and doctors have
started using plasma from people
recovering from Covid-19 to treat others who have developed the disease. Medical News Today spoke to Dr Arturo Casadevall, from Johns Hopkins University, to learn more about this approach.
What is convalescent plasma therapy, and why are some doctors using it to treat Covid-19? In this Special Feature, we investigate.
In the search for an effective treatment for Covid-19, an old method of fighting infectious diseases has recently resurfaced: transfusions with convalescent plasma. Plasma is a component of blood.
This method has a simple premise. The blood of people who have recovered from an infection contains antibodies. Antibodies are molecules that have learned to recognize and fight the pathogens, such as viruses, that have caused disease.
Doctors can separate plasma, one of the blood components that contain such antibodies, and administer it to people whose bodies are currently fighting an infectious disease. This can help their immune systems reject the pathogen more efficiently. Recently, researchers and healthcare professionals have been looking into the possibility of using this method to treat people with Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In the United States, a group of researchers and doctors from 57 institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are investigating and applying convalescent plasma therapy for Covid-19.
This is a concerted initiative — called the “National Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma Project” — born after the publication of a viewpoint paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in March, 2020.
To understand more about convalescent plasma therapy, its merits, its risks, and its current use in Covid-19 treatments, Medical News Today recently spoke to Dr Casadevall. Here is what he told us, alongside more information on the current state of convalescent plasma therapy.
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