Corona: Blood plasma from convalescents for the therapy of COVID-19

Corona: Blood plasma from convalescents for the therapy of COVID-19

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Blood plasma with antibodies for COVID-19 therapy

The University Hospital Erlangen is the first clinic in Germany to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients with blood plasma from recovered people who have had a SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this way, those affected receive antibodies that help with recovery.

The University Hospital of Erlangen recently received regulatory approval for the production of therapeutic blood plasma from recovered people who have survived COVID-19 disease. The effectiveness of such a plasma treatment has been demonstrated in a study that was recently published in the renowned journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)”.

The idea behind blood plasma treatment

There are currently no approved specific antiviral agents that are suitable for the treatment of COVID-19. For this reason, people fall back on the blood plasma of people who have already survived a SARS-CoV-2 infection. This plasma contains antibodies against the pathogen that can be transferred to critically ill COVID-19 sufferers by transfusion. In the first available studies, the clinical symptoms of the patients improved significantly within three days of the treatment. Larger clinical studies are still pending.

Clinic in Erlangen received approval

"We had been in intensive contact with the government of Upper Franconia for many weeks," reports Professor Dr. Holger Hackstein. This contact is now beginning to bear fruit, because the transfusion medicine of the University Hospital Erlangen is now allowed to produce and use COVID-19 immune plasma for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. "Due to the extremely positive response to our call for donations to former corona patients, apheresis plasma production can start immediately," announced Professor Hackstein.

High response to call for donations

In advance, the clinic had already launched an appeal to former corona sufferers in Franconia with the request to donate blood plasma. Over 200 recovered people answered the call within a few hours. "That was a lot more than we could currently include in our program," comments Hackstein, who is delighted with the positive response. "We are currently no longer looking for any more donors," said the professor.

Who can donate blood plasma?

"It was important that the donors were able to prove a positive coronavirus test at the beginning and, if possible, two negative tests at the end of the disease," explains Hackstein. The plasma donation takes about 45 minutes and is no more burdensome than a normal blood donation. In a so-called apheresis machine, a serum is produced from the donations that contains specific antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Blood plasma can prevent fatal COVID-19 courses

"Current scientific data indicate that COVID-19 immune plasma can significantly weaken life-threatening courses," summarizes Professor Hackstein. "If our initiative is successful - which will also start shortly in some other university hospitals - this procedure could significantly improve the therapy."

For the time being only for the seriously ill

Due to the limited availability and the large number of infected people, plasma treatment is currently only possible for seriously ill COVID-19 patients. According to Hackstein, the primary focus here is on those affected who suffer from severe shortness of breath. The treatment is considered very safe - no serious side effects have been identified in previous applications. (vb)

Read also: Coronavirus: Rapid antibody tests available for risk assessment.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • University Hospital Erlangen: Therapy for corona patients (published: April 5th, 2020),
  • Kai Duan, Bende Liu, Cesheng Li, Huajun Zhang, et al .: Effectiveness of convalescent plasma therapy in severe COVID-19 patients; in: PNAS, 2020,

Video: Mayo Clinic leads convalescent plasma trial to treat coronavirus (August 2022).