AN OXFORD doctor is jointly leading a major programme to collect blood plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus to see if it could be used to save lives.

Professor David Roberts, a consultant haematologist at the Churchill Hospital, will be looking at whether transfusion of this antibody-containing plasma from Covid-19 survivors can be an effective treatment against the virus, as it has been for other viral diseases.

The trial, announced on April 25 by the Department of Health and Social Care, will investigate whether plasma transfusions could improve a patient’s speed of recovery and survival chances. The plasma could also be frozen ahead of any second virus wave.

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Convalescent plasma, which is taken from people who have recovered from an infection, may contain antibodies that their immune systems have produced in fighting the virus.

That plasma can be transfused to patients whose immune systems are struggling to develop their own antibodies.

The trials will investigate whether transfusions may improve a patient’s speed of recovery and chances of survival.

Although there is some evidence of patient benefit from the use of convalescent plasma in Covid-19, the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma transfusions needs to be confirmed by a robust clinical trial.

Professor Roberts, who is also Associate Medical Director, NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “In previous flu and coronavirus epidemics, some reports suggested antibodies from donors who had recovered from the disease could be used to treat acutely ill patients.

“We are investigating whether this plasma can improve survival and reduce ventilation and intensive care unit stay in Covid-19 patients.

"This is an exciting development as there is no proven treatment for Covid-19.”

Find out more about the plasma trial and how to donate here.