Can antibodies against the coronavirus prevent vulnerable elderly people with covid-19 from ending up in hospital or even dying? This question is central to research that Erasmus MC and LUMC are starting today. In it, patients are given plasma from people who have recovered from covid-19.
Unlike with Previous research this concerns people who have recently contracted an infection. Participants may have complaints for up to seven days and must have tested positive less than a week ago. Anyone who wants to participate must be over 70 or over 50 and run extra risk due to, for example, diabetes, overweight or simply by being born a man.
The most important questions are whether these people heal completely faster due to the plasma with the antibodies and whether they run less risk of a serious disease course. In other words, whether they end up in hospital less often, end up in IC less often and die less often.
No added value for hospital patients
The first wave of corona infections showed that corona patients who are in hospital should expect little from plasma treatment. “We have prematurely interrupted our research in hospitals”, says internist-infectiologist and research leader Bart Rijders of Erasmus MC. “The participants were sick for an average of ten days and three quarters of them already had good antibodies themselves against the virus. We therefore expected little more effect from the plasma. “
This image is confirmed by international research, says Emilie Gieling. She is a hospital pharmacist at UMC Utrecht and a member of a committee that formulate advice for the treatment of corona patients. “International studies have shown so far that plasma with antibodies has no added value for corona patients in the hospital. The exception are people who cannot produce antibodies themselves due to an immune disorder.”
Earlier in disease process
By giving the antibodies earlier in the disease process, Rijnders now hopes to see an effect. He and his colleagues are looking for about 700 participants for the research. One half will receive plasma with antibodies against the coronavirus, the other half will receive plasma without those antibodies. At first, patients can only go to Erasmus MC and LUMC, but at least eight other hospitals will probably join.