What Helps?

July 28, 2020

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Anchor lead: Antibody treatment may point the way to why some people with COVID-19 get critically ill while others don’t, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Antibodies don’t tell the whole story when it comes to the development of critical illness in people with COVID-19. Arturo Casadevall, an expert in antibody treatment of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins, notes a curious phenomenon.

Casadevall: One of the things that is fascinating is, if you get sick with this and you’re in the ICU, these people have antibody to the virus. But they don’t clear the virus. If you give them convalescent plasma from somebody who’s recovered, they clear the virus. And what’s emerging now is that the initial response is not very good. There are some highly neutralizing antibodies that basically stop the infection dead in its track. Several of these monoclonals have now been made. The problem is going to be ramping up production.  :30

Casadevall notes that for low and middle income countries, making monoclonals in a laboratory would be far too expensive and require expertise that may not exist, but the convalescent plasma treatment is much simpler and more practical. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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