Coronavirus, what we know about plasma treatment

Against Coronavirus, science is running to find possible ways of treatment and a vaccine. In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about hyperimmune plasma therapy, on which various studies, hopes but also criticisms from the scientific world are focusing. Let's try to understand better.

Coronavirus, what does it mean a treatment based on hyperimmune plasma?

All the people infected by COVID-19 and then healed show antibodies against this virus. The treatment involves taking the antibodies from those people, who have already won their battle against novel coronavirus, and injecting them in the form of plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood, into those who are still fighting the virus helping them to neutralize the ongoing threat. This type of cure is not new but has already been used, with good results, to treat other diseases such as SARS, Ebola and MERS (Yoo et al, J Korean Med Sci., 2020).

Coronavirus, does plasma treatment work? Are there any risks?

At present, several cases of patients treated with hyperimmune plasma and cured are reported (Ahn et al, J Korean Med Sci., 2020 - Shen et al, JAMA, 2020). Several hospitals, also in Italy, have asked to join the plasma experimentation reporting good results. However, it should be emphasized, this is a therapy that still needs to be tested. In fact, antiviral drugs have also been administered to patients treated with plasma, as reported in the scientific articles, and therefore it is difficult to understand to what extent the curative action has been of the plasma or of the medicines but, as suggested, there is likely to be a synergy. Not only that, when talking about plasma therapy it is necessary to indicate a treatment protocol, to define the quantity, to understand all the possible side effects, such as allergies or kidney problems, and to analyze from which donors it is possible to take the plasma excluding those with few antibodies or concomitant diseases. At present, scientists are still evaluating this phase. However, beyond these limitations that are being overcome thanks to ongoing research, it is possible that plasma therapy may become a very promising way of cure of novel coronavirus.
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