What is convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19?

Convalescent plasma is the cell-free liquid part of blood (plasma) drawn from people who have recovered (convalesced) from COVID-19. It contains antibodies that help fight the virus off.  We’ve used convalescent plasma to treat serious infections for nearly 100 years.

So far, we only have small studies of convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19. But major U.S. medical centers are on the case, including the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University. And in China, one study of 10 people with severe COVID-19 showed that convalescent plasma might have helped them recover. We need a lot more research to show that that the treatment is safe and effective.

How does it work? Volunteers who recover from COVID-19 are screened for eligibility to donate. If they are eligible, they give their plasma. It’s very similar to blood donation. The plasma is then given to a sick person. It’s really important that a lot of people donate because doctors can only create one dose from each recovered person.

Image from https://covid.idea.medicine.uw.edu/page/treatment/drugs/human-coronavirus-immune-plasma-hcip

Last updated April 16, 2020 at 10:00pm ET

Science review: JAB, ERS