Blood plasma sought from COVID-19 survivors

Blood plasma
Golden-colored blood plasma can contain antibodies to fight a coronavirus infection. (Bloodworks Northwest via YouTube)

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Bloodworks Northwest are putting out the call for people who have recovered from confirmed cases of COVID-19 to donate blood plasma as part of the quest for treatments.

More than 5,000 people in Washington state have been diagnosed with the disease caused by coronavirus over the past two and a half months, and those who have recovered have developed antibodies that are coded to fight off the virus.

For more than a century, health care providers have used transfusions of blood plasma from the survivors of infectious diseases to boost the ability of others to fight off those diseases, thanks to antibodies in the plasma. Those antibodies can also be used in the lab to create new types of medical treatments.

Scientists are hoping that the strategy will work for coronavirus as well. This week, researchers in China report that they’ve isolated several types of antibodies that seem to be “extremely effective” at blocking the virus.

The UW-Bloodworks team is among several research groups across the U.S. that are studying therapeutic applications for plasma from COVID-19 survivors.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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