COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), a coronavirus that is believed to have originated from bats in China, as it has close genetic similarity to bat coronaviruses.
One of the most effective ways to prevent a disease caused by a virus is the development of a vaccine. Vaccines typically contain the deactivated virus or specific elements that entice the immune system to develop antibodies against it. Antibodies bind to the viral units and help the immune system recognize and destroy them.
However, the creation of a vaccine takes a long time, as it must go through a full cycle of preclinical and clinical trials. Another source of antibodies is the plasma of another patient who has recovered from the same disease (convalescent plasma). Injection of plasma containing antibodies has been used to treat diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, and viral respiratory diseases for over a century.
The FDA recently approved use of convalescent plasma to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients [1, 2] after several case reports in which it proved to be effective in significantly reducing viral load [3, 4].
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has initiated a randomized, blinded Phase 2 study comparing the efficacy and safety of human coronavirus immune plasma (HCIP) vs. control (SARS-CoV-2 non-immune plasma) among 150 adults exposed to COVID-19 . Primary results are expected by the end of December 2022, and full results are expected in January 2023.
- Investigational COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma – Emergency INDs
- Tanne, J. H. (2020). Covid-19: FDA approves use of convalescent plasma to treat critically ill patients.
- Zhang, B., Liu, S., Tan, T., Huang, W., Dong, Y., Chen, L., … & Zou, Y. (2020). Treatment with convalescent plasma for critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Chest.
- Shen, C., Wang, Z., Zhao, F., Yang, Y., Li, J., Yuan, J., … & Wei, J. (2020). Treatment of 5 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 With Convalescent Plasma. JAMA.
- Convalescent Plasma to Stem Coronavirus: A Randomized, Blinded Phase 2 Study Comparing the Efficacy and Safety Human Coronavirus Immune Plasma (HCIP) vs. Control (SARS-CoV-2 Non-immune Plasma) Among Adults Exposed to COVID-19