New York testing COVID-19 survivors' blood as boost for the infected

WATCH: A team of medical researchers in New York has developed a blood test that can detect whether people have antibodies to COVID-19 present in their blood. As Heather Yourex-West explains, the therapy could be a critical weapon in the war against COVID-19.

New York believes they may have found the golden ticket to fighting the novel coronavirus, and it’s in the plasma of recovered patients.

The state is hoping to fight the rapidly spreading disease by collecting blood from recovered COVID-19 patients and injecting it into people still fighting it, NBC News reports.

The treatment, called convalescent plasma, was first used during the flu epidemic in 1918, well before vaccines and antiviral drugs were invented. It’s also been successfully used to treat Ebola patients, the World Health Organization reported in a 2014 study.

The hopeful news comes at a time when the world is desperate for answers.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared the plans during a news briefing.

“There have been tests that show when a person is injected with the antibodies, that then stimulates and promotes their immune system against that disease,” Cuomo said.


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“It’s only a trial. It’s a trial for people who are in serious condition, but the New York State Department of Health has been working on this with some of New York’s best health-care agencies, and we think it shows promise, and we’re going to be starting that this week.”

While there’s no guarantee it will work, it seems to be the most probable hope for stopping the virus from spreading further and helping victims recover.

“We won’t know until we do it, but the historical evidence is encouraging,” Dr. Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health told The Associated Press.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 150 people in the state had died from the virus, while another 20,000 confirmed patients remained fighting it.

Officials, according to NBC News, hope to get Food and Drug Administration approval to begin trials this week.

At a White House briefing last week, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn noted that the treatment is promising.

Chinese state-run news organization Xinhua reported that the method had been used with great success during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In late February, they reported that the country offered plasma therapy for 245 coronavirus patients and 91 showed improvement.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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