According to Pakistan’s media, top hematologist and transplant surgeon says that the blood of recovered patients of COVID-19 the mysterious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus could be used to slow the spread of the deadly contagion which has killed nearly 10,000 people and sickened tens of thousands others worldwide.
“The body of a COVID-19 patient creates antibodies to fight off the virus. These antibodies in the blood of a recovered patient could be used to boost the immunity of the newly infected people,” Dr Tahir Shamsi, the head of National Institute of Blood Diseases, told in video message.
In medical vocabulary, this technique is called “passive immunization” which was introduced in 1890, he added. This technique is used when there is a high risk of infection and insufficient time for the body to develop its own immune response, or to reduce the symptoms of ongoing or immunosuppressive diseases.
“We can save precious lives using this technique,” Dr Shamsi said while adding that the National Institute of Blood Diseases is fully equipped to successfully use this technique. “Doctors have saved hundreds of lives with the help of this technique in China since February,” he added.
Convalescent plasma taken from a recovered patient is believed to be rich in the antibodies needed to fight off the deadly infection.
The novel coronavirus, medically named SARS-CoV-2, has infected more than 200,000 people across the globe since its outbreak in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of December 2019. The Chinese government has successfully subdued the outbreak in the epicenter through unprecedented measures, but the contagion is spreading like wildfire elsewhere in the world.
Medical practitioners in the United States are also convinced about the efficacy of this technique. A plan has been presented to the Donald Trump administration for extracting convalescent plasma from the recovered patients of COVID-19 in the US states of Baltimore and New York over the next couple of weeks, Dr Shamsi added.
American medical researchers Arturo Casadevall and Liise-anne Pirofski, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, state in a recent research paper that “human convalescent serum is an option for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 disease”, which could be available in a short timescale as long as enough recovered patients could donate their blood.
On behalf of the National Institute of Blood Diseases, Dr Shamsi said they are ready to help the federal and provincial governments to fight off the viral outbreak which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier this month