Coronavirus pandemic: Survivors in England asked to donate blood plasma for trial
NHS Blood and Transplant is now approaching people who have recovered from COVID-19 to see if plasma from them can be given to people who are currently ill with the virus.
People who recovered from COVID-19 in England are being asked to donate blood plasma for a potential trial. If approved, it may help those currently ill with the deadly virus.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) hopes to test how effective antibodies in the "convalescent" plasma of recently recovered patients might be in treating those fighting the infection.
The US has already started a major project to study this, involving more than 1,500 hospitals, the BBC reported.
When a person has COVID-19, their immune system responds by creating antibodies, which attack the virus. Over time these build up and can be found in the plasma -- a yellowish liquid which is the largest constituent part of your blood -- making up more than half (about 55%) of its overall content.
The main role of plasma is to "take nutrients, hormones and proteins to parts of the body that need it." It is a "critical" part of treatment for many serious health issues, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.
In order to give plasma for the trial, donors must have recovered from coronavirus at least 28 days ago, and meet a series of criteria including being between the ages of 17 and 66 and weighing between 110lbs and 348 lbs. They must not have any existing or previous heart condition.
A statement from NHSBT said: "We envisage that this will be initially used in trials as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
"If fully approved, the trials will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a COVID-19 patient's speed of recovery and chances of survival.
"All clinical trials have to follow a rigorous approval process to protect patients and to ensure robust results are generated. We are working closely with the government and all relevant bodies to move through the approvals process as quickly as possible."
According to the BBC, harnessing the blood of recovered patients is not a new idea in medicine. It was used more than 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu epidemic, and more recently for Ebola and SARS.
So far, only small studies have looked at its efficacy, and there is a great deal of research that needs to be done to see how effective it will be against coronavirus.