The Race of the Year: Covid-19 Vaccine

By Arkan Wa
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Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

The quest for a cure for Covid-19 is becoming more critical than ever. A look at how blood plasma therapy is being researched to treat the critically ill

Victoria is facing its second wave of the pandemic as the number soars up to more than 3,000 infections. Researchers and scientists are now pressured to find the cure for Covid-19 that has infected more than 15 million people in the world. Many treatments have been sought after, from Chloroquine, Remdesivir, to Covax-19, which was researched by our own Flinders University.

The race to find a cure for Covid-19 is becoming more critical than ever. In this quest, another treatment called blood plasma therapy is being researched to treat the critically ill.

Blood plasma therapy involves using blood plasma from recovered patients of Covid-19 and infusing them to the patient. After red and white blood cells, as well as platelets, have been removed, plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that remains.

The antibodies from the plasma of those who have recovered can help treat the disease. Blood plasma doesn’t give immunity to the virus but will boost their immune system to enhance their chances of recovering.

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood are asking for those who have recovered from the virus to donate their blood to the Red Cross

In this effort to help patients, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has collected plasma from 400 Australians who have fully recovered from the virus up to June. They are now asking for those who have recovered from the virus to donate their blood to the Red Cross.

In England, more than 5,000 people have donated plasma. There are currently 27 centres that are able to collect plasma according to the National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT UK).

In South Korea, this treatment is being jointly developed by the Korea National Institute of Health, under the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), and GC Pharma, a private company. More than 500 members of a South Korean Christian Denomination, Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, who have fully recovered from the virus, signed up to donate their plasma for the development of COVID-19 plasma therapy.

Donors who have recovered from Covid-19 must go through a thorough application to be qualified to donate their blood.

To produce enough blood plasma for this remedy, a high number of donor applicants are needed to accelerate the research of this treatment. For the applicants to be considered qualified, they must undergo screening to ensure the prevention of transferring blood-borne diseases.

Though this research is still preliminary, there are high hopes that blood plasma could be the game-changer for treating Covid-19.


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