Can Plasma Therapy Treat COVID-19? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

With over 1,364,711 cases of confirmed Coronavirus patients, and over 76,000 deaths, the world is getting sicker and sicker. Unfortunately, due to the lack of any known treatment and the procedural delay in creating a vaccine is what is leading doctors and scientists to try everything under the sun to slow down the spread of the disease and to find just about anything to treat it. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with the influx of sick patients and there is little one can do about it.

However, the one potential treatment is to help the sick patients with the infusion of antibody rich plasma from patients who have now recovered from the disease. About a week ago, the first Coronavirus patient, Yahya Jaffri also donated his blood to help treat sick patients with the help of his plasma. Looks like Pakistan is also attempting to try the plasma therapy.

Is the Concept of Plasma Therapy New?

The concept is an old one. Doctors first used the basic technique of convalescent plasma in the 1890s against diphtheria. It’s called “passive antibody therapy” because antibody-rich plasma is transferred from someone who has successfully recovered from an infection into a patient suffering from the same disease. The lives of an estimated 45,000 diphtheria patients were saved annually in that pre-antibiotic era.

Will it Work?

One early look reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month showed that five critically ill coronavirus patients on ventilators in Shenzen, China, rapidly improved after treatment with plasma. Within a few days, they started getting better. Eventually, three of them were discharged and two were still hospitalized in stable condition.

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Plasma therapy would offer many advantages. with the way things are looking, a Coronavirus vaccine is 12 to 18 months away. However, plasma is available now. In comparison to the scarcity and high cost of the medical resources of pretty much any country at the moment, plasma is abundant and cheap. Plasma will also increase as more patients recover. Convalescent plasma may serve as another stopgap measure against the pandemic before we get to an effective vaccine.

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