New York State fights coronavirus with blood plasma from recovered patients

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New York City’s Javits Center is transforming into a field hospital to help treat patients; David Lee Miller reports from Manhattan.

New York State says that it will fight the coronavirus outbreak by using the blood plasma of recovered patients.

During a press conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the blood therapy trial, which is aimed at coronavirus patients who are in the most serious condition, will start this week.

New York is the hardest-hit state in the U.S. As of Tuesday, the state had more than 23,230 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“What it does, it takes the plasma from a person who has been infected with the virus, processes the plasma and injects the antibodies into a person who is sick,” Cuomo explained, during the press conference. “There have been trials that show when a person is injected with the antibodies, that then stimulates them for most of their immune system against the disease.”

“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 New York’s best health care agencies and we think it shows promise and we’re going to be starting that this week,” he added.

Harnessing the blood plasma of recovered patients is known as “convalescent plasma,” and was used in the fight against the SARs outbreak, according to an article published last month in the medical journal The Lancet.

“Convalescent plasma or immunoglobulins have been used as a last resort to improve the survival rate of patients with SARS whose condition continued to deteriorate despite treatment with pulsed methylprednisolone,” the article said. “Moreover, several studies showed a shorter hospital stay and lower mortality in patients treated with convalescent plasma than those who were not treated with convalescent plasma.”

New York State has introduced a host of measures as it attempts to control the outbreak, including coronavirus drug trials, which are scheduled to start Tuesday. During a news conference on Sunday, Cuomo announced that the state has acquired 70,000 doses of hydroxychloroquine, 10,000 doses of zithromax and 750,000 doses of chloroquine.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are antimalarial drugs. Zithromax, or azithromycin, is an antibiotic.

On Sunday researchers in France issued a statement detailing how a combination of antimalarial medication and antibiotics could be a vital weapon in the battle against coronavirus.

The work by researchers at IHU-Méditerranée Infection in Marseille has garnered global attention, notably from President Trump.

The FDA is studying the effects of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19, but it has made no recommendation on it yet.

Experts, however, have also urged caution around the combination of medications. Across the globe, a number of drug trials are underway as doctors and scientists scramble to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

New York State is also working on serological testing, where a person’s antibodies are tested to see if they have had the virus already.

“We all believe thousands and thousands of people have had the virus and self-resolved,” Cuomo said during his press conference on Monday. “If you knew that, you would know who is now immune to the virus and who you could send back to work, etc.”

As of Tuesday morning, more than 380,000 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, more than 46,000 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for more than 16,500 deaths around the world, including more than 590 people in the U.S.

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