Can plasma from recovered patients give healthy people immunity to coronavirus?

By Shan Na, Li Yang and Ma Chi | | Updated: 2020-03-18 08:24

Transfusing plasma from recovered patients, which contain antibodies that are effective against the virus, is an unconventional therapy used to treat severe or critical cases of COVID-19 at a time when vaccines and specific medications against the disease are not yet available, according to the latest guideline on the diagnosis and treatment of the novel coronavirus released by the National Health Commission. 

Although plasma therapy is effective on some severe patients, it doesn't mean that it can be adopted as a preventative measure for healthy people to gain immunity, said Wu Yuzhang, director of the Institute of Immunology of the People's Liberation Army. 

Since the novel coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract, antibodies should be deployed on the respiratory mucous membrane to keep the virus from infecting cells. There is no evidence that the plasma from a recovered patient has such an effect, he said. 

Also, the plasma from the recovered patients contain not only antibodies that are effective against the novel coronavirus, but also other types of antibodies, cytokines and plasma proteins, which may cause allergies and autoimmune diseases.

What's more, plasma donated from recovered COVID-19 patients is in short supply and involves a complicated processing procedure and high costs, therefore it is not viewed as a viable method for healthy people to get immunity to the virus.

For the general public, preventive precautions such as wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from others are better ways to prevent ourselves from getting the virus.

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