The plan is to ask people who have already survived the coronavirus and have generated antibodies to donate their blood, from which the plasma would be isolated so that it can be transfused to sick or high-risk people.
In this way, the aspiration is to implement an ancient therapy for infectious diseases : to make transfusions of antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to other seriously ill patients. In the past, this is how other viral infections such as measles, mumps, polio, and flu were often prevented and treated.
As has published the journal of the Faculty of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, blood transfusions survivors of the COVID-19 could be últiles: Not surprisingly, this technique has already been used quite successfully during the pandemic Spanish flu of 1918 .
More than 1,700 patients received blood serum from the survivors in that case, although it is difficult to draw conclusions from studies that were not designed to meet current standards. In more recent times, the technique was also used in the SARS outbreak in 2002-03 or with the Ebola virus, but in few people and with very limited studies, so we are facing inconsistent results .
However, the problem with COVID-19 is that we lack a vaccine, and time is against us.
As Jeffrey P. Henderson , associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis, notes:
This is something that can be done much faster than drug development, because it basically involves donating and transfusing. As soon as we have individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, we have potential donors and we will be able to use the blood bank system to obtain plasma and distribute it to patients in need.
Still, from theory to practice there is still an important step: how much antibody is in the blood of recovered patients and how much antibody needs to be administered to effectively treat or prevent COVID-19 still needs to be determined.
It is estimated that the Spanish flu killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world in just two years. Between 1918 and 1920 it killed between 3% and 6% of the world’s population. There were many people in a very short time, but it was not the worst pandemic: smallpox, caused by the Variola virus , is an infectious disease that leads the ranking of pandemics that have caused the most deaths in the history of humanity, more than 300 million .