A hospital in the United States has reportedly infused the blood of a recovered coronavirus patient into a critically ill patient in a bid to experiment with blood transfusion therapy. While the World Health Organisation announced that it will take at least 12 to 18 months for coronavirus vaccine, the prominent Houston hospital became the first medical facility in the country to try the experimental therapy. Dr Eric Salazar, who is a physician-scientist with Methodist's Research Institute, said that the therapy could be a ‘vital treatment’ as a vaccine is going to take time.
Salazar said in a statement, ”Convalescent serum therapy could be a vital treatment route because unfortunately there is relatively little to offer many patients except supportive care, and the ongoing clinical trials are going to take a while”.
According to reports, the recovered coronavirus patient donated the blood plasma for what is known as the convalescent serum therapy. The concept of the therapy dates back to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. The President and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital, Marc Boom, reportedly said that felt obligated to try the therapy as an infusion of convalescent serum can help save the life of a critically ill patient.
Earlier this week, the Houston Methodist Hospital began recruiting blood plasma donors from approximately 250 patients who were tested positive for coronavirus. The donors were told to give a quart of blood plasma in a procedure, much like donating whole blood. While explaining the process, Boom said that the plasma for someone who has recovered from coronavirus contains antibodies made by the immune system to attack the virus.
The Houston hospital hopes that transferring such plasma into a patient still fighting the virus may transfer the power of the antibodies onto healing. According to reports, the therapy was also tried during a diphtheria outbreak in the 1920s and several infectious disease outbreaks. The doctors at the hospital hope that if the therapy works it could be a more immediate treatment with a relatively abundant supply source as thousands of people have been recovered.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the governments against testing COVID-19 patients with medication not scientifically proven to fight the pathogen. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued the warning as the coronavirus cases around the globe surged up to 678,905. While speaking at a press conference, Tedros urged countries to refrain from ‘therapeutics’ which have not been demonstrated to be effective in coronavirus treatment.