A potential coronavirus treatment using plasma from recovered patients is being trialled at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital, with transfusions beginning in “the coming weeks”.
The potential treatment, known as convalescent plasma, is hoped to help patients whose bodies are not producing enough antibodies to fight Covid-19. If proven effective, NHS Blood and Transplant will begin a national programme to deliver up to 10,000 units of convalescent plasma per week to the NHS, enough to treat 5,000 patients a week.
Regulators in the US have allowed the emergency use of remdesivir, the first drug that appears to help some infected patients recover faster. The intravenous drug has been cleared for hospitalised patients with “severe disease,” such as those experiencing breathing problems requiring supplemental oxygen or ventilators.
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Meanwhile, Ireland‘s taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, announced the country will begin its journey to a new normal after a further two weeks of the current lockdown restrictions, though people will be allowed to travel further to exercise and self-isolating over-70s will be advised they can leave home for a walk or drive in the coming days.
It comes as the global number of infections passed 3.3 million, with over 237,000 deaths reported.
Follow the latest updates
- Potential treatment using blood plasma on trial in UK
- US regulators allow emergency use of remdesivir drug
- Ireland will begin journey to a new normal as lockdown lifted in two weeks, taoiseach says
- Global number of infections passes 3.3 million
Potential treatment on trial in UK
A potential treatment for coronavirus using plasma from recovered patients is to be trialled by doctors at London's Guy's and St Thomas' hospital.
The first donations of the plasma have been collected and transfusions will begin in "the coming weeks", the hospital's Biomedical Research Centre said in a statement.
It is hoped the potential treatment, known as convalescent plasma, will help patients whose bodies are not producing sufficient antibodies to fight the virus.
The hospital says if the trials prove the treatment to be effective, NHS Blood and Transplant will begin a national programme to deliver up to 10,000 units of convalescent plasma per week to the NHS, enough to treat 5,000 patients each week.
The trial is co-led by Dr Manu Shankar-Hari, a consultant in intensive care medicine at the hospital, along with experts from NHS Blood and Transplant and the University of Cambridge.
"As a new disease, there are no proven drugs to treat critically ill patients with Covid-19. Providing critically ill patients with plasma from patients who have recovered... could improve their chances of recovery," said Dr Shankar-Hari.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: "This global pandemic is the biggest public health emergency this generation has faced and we are doing absolutely everything we can to beat it.
"The UK has world-leading life sciences and research sectors and I have every hope this treatment will be a major milestone in our fight against this disease.
"Hundreds of people are participating in national trials already for potential treatments and the scaling up of convalescent plasma collection means thousands could potentially benefit from it in the future."
The BBC reported there was currently enough plasma to transfuse to 143 patients.