Researchers around the world are racing to create a cure for coronavirus. The virus has been found in almost all the major countries of the world by now, and the infection rates have begun to soar to an alarming number. European countries and the USA are doing particularly bad with a large infection and death rate.
The good news is that researchers have found evidence that suggests that the infusion of blood plasma from coronavirus patients who have recovered can help seriously ill patients recover. Most of the studies have been conducted in China, and the results look promising. A certain number of seriously ill patients were given antibody-rich plasma. What followed was a striking improvement in the patients’ symptoms. Test results also showed a rapid drop in the virus levels in their bodies.
A lot of researchers are quite optimistic about the prospects of this treatment, becoming the standard cure for the pandemic. Reports are being published in journals as we speak, cataloguing the results of these trials being conducted over the world. Some trials have even reported that the patients did not need the ventilators after being given the antibody-rich plasma infusion.
The positive aspects of these trials are abundantly clear. This method can likely help people with either weak or compromised immune systems by giving them a better chance of fighting back the virus. The problem is that there have been no mass studies yet. Only a small number of patients have been treated, and for this treatment to become standard, much wider consensus is needed. The benefits of the treatment need to be properly assessed before any decisions are taken.
The way that this treatment works is simple. When people are infected with the virus, their immune systems fight back by creating what is called permanent antibodies. These antibodies float in the plasma. To make a treatment out of it, the blood is extracted, and the plasma is separated from the other cells. Then the plasma is further purified to isolate those permanent antibodies. When the isolated antibodies are injected into a new patient, it is known as convalescent plasma. The antibodies then provided what is known as ‘passive’ immunity to the patient. It is called passive because it is only viable for a short amount of time, and after that, the patient’s immune system has to produce the right antibodies on its own.
There can be many approaches to the convalescent plasma treatment as well—for example, one company, which specializes in making plasma-based treatments for patients suffering from immune disorders uses a basic method. The basic principle is the same. They purify the plasma and give the antibodies to the ill patients.
The difference is that they’re not going to isolate the specific antibody which fights coronavirus. As they have done with the earlier treatments, they are going to import the whole arsenal of disease-fighting antibodies from the donors. All the treatments described here hold promise. The only thing we can do is wait and hope that these treatments pass the trials and become available to masses as soon as possible.