Houston hospital tries blood transfusion therapy to cure coronavirus patients: How it works and what doctors are saying
A hospital in Houston has carried out a blood transfusion therapy in a bid to treat coronavirus patients. For the first time in the United States, blood from a person who recovered from COVID-19 was used to treat other patients.
The donor of the blood plasma was being monitored at the Houston Methodist Hospital and was reported to be in good health for two weeks. The process, called the ‘convalescent serum therapy’, has been used for epidemics such as the Spanish flu, polio, measles and mumps.
How it works
The therapy is based on the principle of passive immunity. Anyone who recovers from an infection does so with the help of antibodies built by their immunity system to fight the microbe.
Now, if the plasma or the clear liquid component of blood of a recovered patient is infused into the body of an infected one, it is hoped that their immune system will also get strengthened with these antibodies.
What doctors are saying
Dr Eric Salazar, a physician scientist at the Houston Methodist Hospital, said in a statement that convalescent serum therapy could be a vital treatment route as there is relatively little to offer except for supportive care.
How useful it will be
As there is no vaccine or prescribed cure for coronavirus, the success of plasma infusion will speed up the treatment. Health providers across the world are endangering themselves to treat scores of patients. Once the healthcare infrastructure crumbles, it will be difficult to battle the pandemic.
A vaccine for coronavirus will at least take a year to make and plasma infusion is the most viable option to contain the number of positive cases. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave permission to carry out blood transfusion therapy last week.
Following the Spanish flu, convalescent serum therapy was used in 2005 for SARS patients in Hong Kong. H1N1 patients in 2009 were also treated with the plasma of recovered patients, along with those infected by Ebola in 2014 and MERS patients in 2015.
Updated Date: Mar 30, 2020 11:52:19 IST
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