SEOUL, April 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea will set guidelines for the treatment of coronavirus patients with plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19, a senior health official said Tuesday, after two patients here were declared cured upon receiving the therapy.
The therapy involves infusions of blood plasma from coronavirus survivors to virus patients, though there is controversy over whether it will be successful and effective for all virus patients.
There is no vaccine yet for the novel coronavirus, and some experts have said convalescent plasma is worth a try.
South Korea administered plasma therapy on nine MERS patients in 2015, and some of them were cured.
Blood plasma filled with antibodies gotten after an illness has proven effective in curing infectious diseases.
Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that plasma therapy guidelines will be announced within days.
The two recovered patients are over 65 years old, with one of them suffering underlying illnesses, Kwon said.
Kwon remained cautious about the effectiveness of plasma therapy, saying health authorities will apply the guidelines to hospitals after gathering opinions from experts.
A group of doctors at Severance Hospital in Seoul, which administered plasma therapy on the two patients, uploaded their method of treatment to the website of the Journal of Korean Medical Science.
The two patients are a 67-year-old woman with a medical history of hypertension who tested positive on March 6 and a previously healthy 71-year-old man who was confirmed to have contracted the illness on February 22, according to the article.
“Despite the limitations, our cases suggest that convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infection might be an additional option to treat patients without causing any severe adverse effects,” it said.
“Also, when used with systemic corticosteroids, we might expect the possibility of reducing excessive inflammatory response by corticosteroids as well as promoting the reduction of viral loads by convalescent plasma simultaneously. Further well-designed studies are needed to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma transfusion in COVID-19 patients,” it said.
The English-language article is available at https://jkms.org/DOIx.php?id=10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e149.