Plasma is a component of blood. Convalescent plasma refers to the stuff that’s taken from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and developed antibodies. That plasma is extracted (via a spin in a centrifuge that removes red and white blood cells) and given to people who are sick with the virus, via an IV. The idea is that the distilled antibodies in the plasma will help the ill person fight off the virus, explains Shmuel Shoham, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine who’s currently working on study looking into COVID-19 and convalescent plasma. This protocol had already been used to help 97,319 patients as of August 17 as part of a nationwide “expanded access” program, Wired reports. Dozens of clinical trials into the treatment’s efficacy are underway, and so far they indicate some success when plasma with high antibody levels is injected into patients under 80 who aren’t on a ventilator within three days of diagnosis.
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