Convalescent plasma offers promising treatment for coronavirus

At least 11 critically ill people have been treated with therapy, Chinese pharmaceutical company claims

A lab assistant works on samples at Berlin's Charite hospital.

A lab assistant works on samples at Berlin's Charite hospital. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Convalescent plasma collected from patients who have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) offers a beam of hope for effective treatment of those infected.

In a statement released on Thursday (Feb. 13), Chinese pharmaceutical company Sino Biopharmaceutical Limited (Sino Biopharm) said the therapy has been used to treat 11 patients in critical condition — with promising effects, wrote ETToday.

Three patients down with the virus at a hospital in the Jiangxia District of Wuhan were first to receive the plasma-based therapy on Feb. 8. Within 12 to 24 hours of the treatment, inflammation levels were reduced, the lymphocyte count elevated, and symptoms alleviated.

More than 10 gravely ill cases are being treated the same way at the hospital, according to the report. Empirical evidence suggests that most coronavirus patients will develop specific antibodies that help terminate the virus after they recover.

There is no drug on the immediate horizon to treat the disease, other than supportive medical intervention. The blood plasma-based therapy can reduce mortality rates, experts believe.

Sino Biopharm said the plasma donated by convalescents undergoes a series of procedures, including virus inactivation and multiple pathogenic tests, before being used to treat patients. The company has called on individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 who have been cured to donate their blood and save the lives of others afflicted by the disease.

Similar methods have been employed to treat patients who have contracted the Ebola virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).