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20.04.20

NHS Blood and Transplant looking into plasma coronavirus treatment

In an effort to potentially use the blood of coronavirus survivors to treat hospital patients ill will the disease, NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) has called for donations from those who have recovered from Covid-19.

The blood donated from some of the people who had recovered from the virus would be used in clinical trials to assess the therapy, before moving more widescale. The idea behind the treatment is that those who have beaten the virus will have built up antibodies in the blood which could then in turn help defeat the virus in the recipient too.

A major study into a treatment like this is already underway in the United States, with more than 1,500 hospitals involved.

Over time, as a person’s body battles Covid-19, the number of antibodies created to attack the virus build up and can be found within the plasma – the liquid part of the blood which NHSBT is seeking to potentially use to treat patients currently ill with the virus.

The treatment, sometimes called ‘convalescent plasma’, emerged as an antiviral treatment during the 2002 SARS outbreak and showed signs of improving patient health, though clinical trials would need to establish any potential benefits relating to Covid-19.

NHSBT are just one of several groups in the UK looking to pursue clinical studies into using blood plasma, with University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff announcing a desire to trial the technology.

In a statement to the BBC, NHSBT 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.”

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