Science and the Coronavirus: Virological assessment of COVID-19 patients and the effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in severe patients
In this edition of Science and the Coronavirus, we look at a paper that studies the virological assessment of COVID-19 patients. The second paper shows promising recovery from COVID-19 in patients treated by transfusion with convalescent plasma (plasma derived from people who have previously recovered from COVID-19 and have generated plasma antibodies against the virus).
Virological assessment of hospitalized patients with COVID-2019
COVID-19 is an acute respiratory tract infection. The initial outbreaks in China involved 13.8% of severe cases, and 6.1% critical cases. This severe presentation corresponds to the usage of a virus receptor that is expressed predominantly in the lungs.
By causing an early onset of severe symptoms, this same receptor tropism is thought to have determined pathogenicity, but also aided the control, of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, there are reports of COVID-19 cases with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms, suggesting the potential for pre- or oligosymptomatic transmission.
There is an urgent need for information on body site-specific virus replication, immunity, and infectivity. In this study, the authors provide a detailed virological analysis of nine cases, providing proof of active virus replication in upper respiratory tract tissues.
Effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in severe COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 is currently a big threat to global health. However, no specific antiviral agents are available for its treatment. In this work, the authors explore the feasibility of convalescent plasma (CP) transfusion to save the lives of severe patients.
The results from 10 severe adult cases showed that one dose (200 mL) of CP was well tolerated and could significantly increase or maintain the neutralizing antibodies at a high level, leading to the disappearance of viremia in 7 d. Meanwhile, clinical symptoms and paraclinical criteria rapidly improved within 3 d. Radiological examination showed varying degrees of absorption of lung lesions within 7 days. These results indicate that CP can serve as a promising rescue option for severe COVID-19, while the randomized trial is warranted.