- Researchers from John Hopkins recommend the use of convalescent sera as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
- This technique dates back to the 1890s and it was successful in the treatment of various outbakes through the 20th century.
What is Convalescent Sera?
Convalescent sera are blood serum taken from individuals that survive infection by a microbial pathogen like a virus. The serum helps immunize patients from gaining the same infection. That is, this technique helps provide immediate immunity to certain diseases in critical situations.
This technique is also known as a passive antibody therapy and it is different from vaccination. Active vaccination is different because it requires the induction of an immune response. Furthermore, this process can last for days even weeks. On the other hand, administering antibody agents directly through serum injections will give the person immediate immunity.
This technique is in use since the 1980s. Also, it was our only means of treating certain infectious diseases before the invention of antimicrobial therapy in the 1940s. Prior experience with other diseases like SARS-CoV-1 shows that convalescent sera contain neutralizing antibodies for the relevant virus.
The use of sera is a good preventive measure that can help authorities to immunize the public. This is possible because it provides instant immunity to the pathogen that is causing the epidemic. On the other hand, convalescent sera are not equally good as a treatment measure. Even though some researchers suggest it can help bring down mortality rates in infected individuals.
Risks and Benefits
The most obvious benefit of this immunization technique is in the prophylactic benefits it can bring. That is, it can help prevent the spread of a disease like COVID-19 to high-risk individuals. It can also help with the immunization of medical staff and other officials that help with the disease. This is not a novel technique in the 21st century and it is part of modern clinical practices.
On the other hand, it can cause problems that occur during the transfer of blood substances. That is, the serum can contain other pathogens that can infect the patient as they are receiving the treatment. Even though such risks exist the researchers claim that the benefits are far bigger.
About the Research
The research study The convalescent sera option for containing COVID-19 is available through The Journal of Clinical Investigation.