Verge: Microsoft launches ‘Plasma Bot’ to recruit recovered COVID-19 patients to help treat sick ones

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The antibodies in recovered patients’ blood may be an effective novel coronavirus treatment


Microsoft is launching a self-screening tool for people to check whether they qualify to donate their plasma in the hopes of creating a treatment for those with COVID-19, according to a company blog post. The tool is part of the company’s work with a group called the CoVig-19 Plasma Alliance.

When someone is infected with a virus, their immune system produces antibodies to fight it. Once the infected person recovers, they have these antibodies in their blood.

“The sooner recovered COVID-19 patients donate convalescent plasma, the sooner the Alliance may be able to start manufacturing a potential therapy and begin clinical trials,” according to the post. “These trials will determine if this therapy could treat patients who are at risk for serious complications from COVID-19.”


With COVID-19, some early information suggests plasma infusions have helped some patients’ recovery time, but it’s still too early to tell how effective the treatment is. Researchers in the US continue to run controlled studies on plasma infusion treatments for COVID-19 patients.

The Plasma Alliance’s goal is different from some other plasma-related initiatives; rather than focusing on giving plasma transfusions directly to infected patients, the alliance wants to make a therapy called a polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-Ig).

The process pools together multiple donations of plasma. Then, the antibodies are concentrated into a liquid form, which the researchers will try to use to create a medication that can treat the virus. The therapy would have to go through clinical trials before being approved to treat COVID-19 patients.

 
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