Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients believed an effective treatmentby Leng Shumei and Yu Xi
Medical workers receive patients for treatment at "Wuhan Livingroom" in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 8, 2020. The cultural building complex dubbed "Wuhan Livingroom" is a converted hospital to receive patients infected with the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Gao Xiang/Xinhua)
Doctors have called on recovered COVID-19 patients to donate blood as plasma taken from recovered patients contains a high concentration of antibodies and has proven very effective in the treatment of patients in severe conditions.
Twenty-eight recovered COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospital in Shanghai on Friday. Six are willing to donate plasma for further research to combat novel coronavirus pneumonia, according to Shanghai authorities.
A recovered patient surnamed Han in Shanghai told media on Friday morning that he will donate plasma in two weeks to express his gratitude to medical staff and society.
Plasma extracted from blood donated by recovered patients is used to make products that are the most effective treatment for COVID-19 when there is no drug or vaccine. These products can significantly lower the fatality rate of patients in severe conditions, the China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the country's largest biotech firm, said on China's Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo on Thursday. CNBG is one of the main developers of the products.
Zhang Dingyu, director of Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, a designated hospital for the treatment of COVID-19, called for recovered patients to donate blood during a press conference on Thursday.
Blood from recovered patients contains a high concentration of antibodies, Zhang said, noting that his hospital has carried out trials on patients in severe conditions using plasma from recovered patients and has received good results.
Plasma products made using recovered patients' blood were first used on three patients in serious conditions on February 8 at the No.1 Renmin Hospital in Jiangxia District, Wuhan. More than 10 severe cases had improved 10-24 hours after receiving the treatment, the State Council Information Office announced on Weibo on Thursday.
The therapy was used in 2003 to treat severe SARS cases in China, a Beijing-based public health expert told the Global Times on the condition of anonymity.
He said the plasma is processed and extracted, and is safe to receive.
The therapy has also reportedly been used as an emergency measure to treat MERS and Ebola when drugs and vaccines are lacking. It was included in the fifth-version diagnosis and treatment plan issued by the National Health Commission (NHC).
But concerns remain over supplies and the possibility of rejection.
According to Liu Bende, deputy director of the No.1 Renmin Hospital, 20 recovered patients have donated blood to the hospital since January 20, from which 3,000 milliliters of plasma were extracted.
As of Thursday, there were 55,748 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in China including 10,204 patients in severe conditions, the NHC announced on Friday.