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South Korea trial uses survivor blood plasma to treat coronavirus

By
Lee Jong-hwa/UPI News Korea
A 67-year-old woman infected by the novel coronavirus suffered from pneumonia (L). She recovered after being treated with blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors (R). Image courtesy of Severance Hospital
A 67-year-old woman infected by the novel coronavirus suffered from pneumonia (L). She recovered after being treated with blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors (R). Image courtesy of Severance Hospital

SEOUL, April 7 (UPI) -- South Korea is using blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to test and potentially treat others.

Severance Hospital in Seoul said Tuesday that, so far, its test of treating two critically ill patients with the blood plasma of COVID-19 survivors succeeded.

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The two patients -- a man in his early 70s and a woman in her late 60s -- recovered and one of them was discharged, the hospital said.

Results of the trial were published in the latest edition of the Journal of Korean Medical Science.

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"Blood plasma-based treatment also has its own side effects. And its scientific proof is not yet sufficient because we have not carried out enough clinical tests," Professor Choi Jun-yong, who headed the trial, said in a statement.

"Although there is no proven treatment for COVID-19, blood plasma might be an option" in the future, Choi added.

In the past, South Korea has utilized blood plasma to deal with the 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, which killed 38 people in the country.

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Blood plasma, which makes up a majority of blood by volume, is mostly water but is also rich with virus-fighting antibodies.

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Earlier this month, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would come up with guidelines for the safe use of blood plasma in fighting the coronavirus.

"While there is no proven treatment for COVID-19 across the world, we plan to take advantage of blood plasma of recovered patients," KCDC Vice Chief Kwon Jun-wook said in a media briefing.

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"We expect that the approach may work, as recovered patients would have antibodies."

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