Back about a hundred years ago in 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, Americans faced more than one wave of deadly flu. The first wave was the deadliest and a year later the flu virus was less deadly because it was less virulent. More people survived also because of an antibody treatment that was developed. It was considered a miracle cure for those with no other hope of surviving. Purified antibodies found in the serum of people who had fought off the virus and survived it were injected into sick people. That sometimes saved the sickest people, giving them another chance at life. This treatment may offer more hope than using a ventilator, which sometimes fails to save those in dire straits.
As we worry about the novel coronavirus, Johns Hopkins University is doing a trial of IgG, or gamma globulin treatment to help people who are sick with coronavirus. In order to treat them with gamma globulin, it is important to find COVID19 survivors so that their serum can be purified and cleaned up for use in transfusions. The serum gamma globulin treatment is thought to be as safe as a blood transfusion. It can be repeated if it is needed as the donated IgG gets broken down in a patient’s body over time. It’s another bit of hope for people who are afraid and looking for a solution to help their loved ones.
In the meantime, we will wait and hope for a vaccine to be developed. Other medicines may be brought into use as well.
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Reference: “Antibodies from COVID-19 Survivors Could Be Used to Treat Patients, Protect Those at Risk”; Katie Pearce, Johns Hopkins University Hub, hub.jhu.edu/2020/03/13/covid-19-antibody-sera-arturo-casadevall, accessed 27 Mar 2020.