Mar 24, 2020 - Health

Critically ill coronavirus patients can now be treated with survivors' blood

Blood and plasma samples used for the evaluation swabs for Coronavirus in the research laboratory

Blood and plasma samples used for the evaluation swabs for coronavirus research in Italy. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday new emergency protocols allowing allowing the plasma of those who've recovered from the novel coronavirus to treat patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

Why it matters: The number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. had risen to almost 54,900 and the death toll to 783 by Tuesday night. Per the FDA, it is possible that this treatment, convalescent plasma, "contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection."

The big picture: Doctors in China have treated coronavirus patients with convalescent plasma. The method was also used during the 1918 flu epidemic.

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Monday trials for the convalescent plasma treatment in the state, which has become the COVID-19 epicenter, with at least 14,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City alone.

What they're saying: Cuomo stressed that it's "only a trial."

  • "It's a trial for people who are in serious condition, but the New York State Department of Health has been working on this with some of New York's best health-care agencies, and we think it shows promise, and we're going to be starting that this week," he said.
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