Britain is set to start trials to see whether plasma from coronavirus survivors could help in the recovery of those who have been severely affected with the COVID-19 disease.
According to a statement on Saturday from British health department, up to 5,000 severely ill patients with COVID-19 could soon be treated each week with plasma as part of a new approach to treating the virus.
Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can be transfused to patients who are unable to produce their own antibodies against the virus. Convalescent plasma had been effectively used during the 2002 to 2004 SARS outbreak, said officials from the health department.
In parallel with the national randomized clinical trial, the government is also scaling up the national programme for collecting plasma so that the treatment can be widely rolled out if it is shown to be effective, said the health department.
The collection of plasma would be ramped up over April and May to deliver up to 10,000 units of plasma to the National Health Service (NHS) every week, enough to treat 5,000 COVID-19 patients per week.
“I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease,” said Britain’s Health Minister Matt Hancock.
“The UK is leading the world’s largest trials to find a treatment for COVID-19, with over 7,000 people so far involved testing a range of medicines; we hope to add convalescent plasma to this list shortly,” said Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer while adding, “Convalescent plasma has been used as an effective treatment for emerging infections in the past, and this step forward underpins our science-backed approach to fighting this virus.”