LONDON: The UK is gearing up to use the blood of coronavirus survivors to treat hospital patients ill with the disease. NHS Blood and Transplant is asking some people who recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood so they can potentially assess the therapy in trials.
According to a BBC report, the hope is that the antibodies they have built up will help to clear the virus in others. The US has already started a major project to study this, involving more than 1,500 hospitals.
When a person has Covid-19, their immune system responds by creating antibodies, which attack the virus. Over time these build up and can be found in the plasma, the liquid portion of the blood. NHSBT is now approaching patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to see if plasma from them can be given to people who are currently ill with the virus.
A statement from the organisation said: “We envisage that this will be initially used in trials as a possible treatment for Covid-19.”If fully approved, the trials will investigate whether convalescent plasma transfusions could improve a Covid-19 patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival.
“All clinical trials have to follow a rigorous approval process to protect patients and to ensure robust results are generated. We are working closely with the government and all relevant bodies to move through the approvals process as quickly as possible.”
Several groups in the UK have been looking into using blood plasma. University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff announced this week that it wanted to trial the technology.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences and executive director of King’s Health Partners, which includes King’s College London and three major London hospitals, is also hoping to set up another small-scale trial.
He wants to use plasma for seriously ill patients that have no other treatment options, while a larger national trial is getting under way.
He said: “I would be disappointed if we weren’t able to see some patients given this form of therapy within a couple of weeks. Let’s hope that the NHSBT national trial gets into gear really quickly.” He said the UK had moved slowly to test the treatment.”I think there are many aspects of this pandemic we’ll look back on and say, I