Chinese study treats five critically ill coronavirus patients with plasma transfusion

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A group of Chinese researchers managed to treat five critically ill coronavirus patients by administering convalescent plasma transfusion, which resulted in three patients fully recovering and returning home, and two patients’ conditions stabilizing, according to a study published on Friday.

Plasma is the liquid part of the blood which carries cells and proteins through the body, when taken from a convalescent – someone who has recovered from an illness – it contains antibodies that can fight said illness.

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In the study, the five patients received a transfusion with convalescent plasma with a SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody that had been obtained from five other patients who had recovered from COVID-19.

The convalescent plasma was administered between 10 and 22 days after admission. The plasma was collected from five donors between the ages of 18 and 60 years.

Following donation, 400 mL of convalescent plasma was obtained from each donor by apheresis (which is the process of separating the cellular and soluble components of blood using a centrifuge), and the plasma was immediately transfused to the recipients on the same day it was obtained.

All five patients, of age ranging from 36-65, were receiving mechanical ventilation at the time of treatment and had all received antiviral agents and methylprednisolone, which is a corticosteroid medication used to decrease inflammation.

The outcome was that the acute respiratory distress syndrome associated with COVID-19 resolved in four patients at 12 days after the transfusion, and three patients were weaned off from mechanical ventilation within two weeks of treatment.

Of the five patients, three have been discharged from the hospital (their length of stay: 53, 51, and 55 days) and two are in stable condition at 37 days after transfusion.

While the promising results of the study indicate the potential effectiveness of convalescent plasma transfusion as a possible cure for coronavirus, it is however a very small preliminary uncontrolled case and requires further evaluation in clinical trials to truly validate the hypothesis.

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