Doctor Abraham Karpas, of the Department of Haematology Cambridge University Clinical School, worked with AIDS patients in the 1980s and found that those whose immune systems had succumbed to the damage caused by HIV had little to no antibodies left in their systems to fight the virus. He used a technique called passive immunotherapy that consisted of taking antibodies from donors with HIV and infusing these into the bloodstream of those with AIDS. The doctor discovered that the patients began to recover, but because HIV keeps reproducing and adapting the recipient needed constant infusions of the antibodies making it impossible to use such treatment on a mass scale.
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But, he informed Express.co.uk that this is not the case with Covid-19, as when the antibody injection succeeds the virus stops replicating and the patient makes a full recovery.
He claimed that one 200ml amount of donor plasma containing the life-saving antibodies could cure severe symptoms in three recipients.
Doctor Karpas said: “The coronaviruses are transient RNA viruses and it appears that once an infected individual recovers he or she becomes virus-free and immune.
“It is not unreasonable to suppose that coronavirus infected individuals who recover will have developed protective antibodies.
“In fact in a recent report, 10 very advanced coronavirus patients were treated with a single 200 ml dose of plasma obtained from individuals who had recovered from the infection and showed impressive clinical improvement.
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The doctor outlined a strategy that the Government could follow to roll-out the immunotherapy treatment in the UK.
He said: “In the absence of generally effective drugs or the prospect of a vaccine in the near future, we suggest in broad terms the following protocol to try and stop the virus from killing so many people worldwide and causing such widespread economic and social damage.
“There are some ten times more healthy corona virus-recovered individuals than deaths, and those who recover should have anti-viral immunity, amongst which in all probability, neutralising antibodies in their blood against the virus.
“It would not be unreasonable to ask the younger individuals to donate blood that can be stored for a month and every medical centre could collect such donations to create a bank of hyperimmune blood/plasma, which could be provided firstly to the severely ill patients as a blood or plasma transfusion with a matching blood group, and thereafter to newly infected individuals developing clinical symptoms.”
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Preliminary research out of China suggests that passive immunotherapy has helped a small group of patients recover.
It’s also seen some success in past infectious disease outbreaks, including in fighting the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak.
In the US doctors have been allowed to use the therapy on a case-by-case basis to treat patients in severe or life-threatening conditions.
A vaccine is in the works but won’t be ready for the general population for at least a year and a half, and drugs are in clinical trials that might take 8 to 10 months to produce convincing results.
Passive immunotherapy, if it works, could be a more immediate treatment with a relatively abundant supply source, because to date, thousands of people have recovered from the disease.
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