Blood from recovered coronavirus patients could be used in a vital stop-gap treatment to help protect humanity from the COVID–19 pandemic currently spreading around the world, researchers propose.
In a new paper, infectious disease experts explain how viral antibodies, contained in the blood serum of patients who have already recovered from the new coronavirus, could then be injected into other people, offering them short-term protection.
This long-established medical remedy – called passive antibody therapy – dates back to the late 19th century, and was widely used during the 20th century to help stem outbreaks of measles, polio, mumps, and influenza.
Much as it aided us before, it could be a crucial and practical tool now in the fight against COVID–19, a team from Johns Hopkins University argues in the new study, adding that antibody therapies can also be made available with urgency.
"Deployment of this option requires no research or development," says immunologist Arturo Casadevall.
"It could be deployed within a couple of weeks since it relies on standard blood-banking practices."
For the treatment to work, recovered coronavirus patients would need to donate their blood after recovering from COVID–19 and while still convalescing from the disease. During this phase, the blood serum would contain high amounts of natural antibodies produced to combat the SARS-CoV–2 virus.