One investigational treatment being explored for COVID-19 is the use of convalescent plasma collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. It is possible that convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection.Use of convalescent plasma has been studied in outbreaks of other respiratory infections, including the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, 2003 SARS- CoV-1 epidemic, and the 2012 MERS-CoV epidemic.
In the March 27, 2020 issue of JAMA, researchers from China reported, the results of 5 patients treated for severe COVID-19 infections with post convalescent serum taken from recovered patients. All patients treated were on ventilators and were males, and they ranged in age from 36-73 years. Within 12 days of receiving convalescent serum, viral titers dropped dramatically to zero. All patients recovered.
Although promising, convalescent plasma has not yet been shown to be effective in COVID-19. The potential risks of receiving convalescent plasma remain unknown. In the case of the dengue virus, getting convalescent serum makes the patient’s paradoxically worse, as it
causes the virus to replicate. Other known complications include transfusion-associated reactions seen with any blood transfusion. There is also the possibility that other known or unknown pathogens could be introduced into the patients. It is therefore important to determine through clinical trials, before routinely administering convalescent plasma to patients with COVID-19, that it is safe and effective to do so.