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The University Hospital Basel is the first Swiss hospital to have treated two Covid-19 patients with the plasma from a patient who has recovered from the virus, which means that they are receiving the appropriate antibodies. This method is a potential therapeutic option.
According to a press release from the University Hospital Basel, the plasma that was administered to two Covid-19 patients contains “above all proteins such as coagulation factors and immunoglobulins (antibodies against pathogens).” Since this was the plasma from a patient who had recovered from Covid-19, the plasma also contains proteins that protect against this specific virus. This method has already proven successful against Ebola and swine flu. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be the case with coronavirus as well.
Andreas Buser, Head of the Basel Blood Donation Center, is quoted in an article by SRF, saying: “We have just treated a handful of patients in this way. Only a study will be able to demonstrate whether this treatment actually works.” Together with Manuel Battegay, Chief Physician of Infectiology at the University Hospital Basel, Buser heads up a research group conducting the potential treatment. This group will now follow developments. The hope is that this will be able to decrease the severity and duration of the illness. Battegay tells SRF: “We are currently collecting the initial experience.”
Giving blood is voluntary for patients who have been proven to have recovered from the virus. The University Hospital Basel states that donors are tested for diseases that can be transmitted by blood, and after donating “a range of viruses, bacteria and parasites as well as potentially harmful white blood cells” are neutralized. The recipient is then given the plasma by transfusion via the veins.