Right now, more than 1,600 Canadians have survived their bout with COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

Some doctors think people like these might be able to help others. Specifically, their blood might help.

A group of Canadian researchers is setting up a clinical trial to see whether survivors’ plasma can be harvested and put into other COVID-19 patients to help them beat the disease.

2:10Ontario researchers race toward treatment and vaccine for COVID-19

Ontario researchers race toward treatment and vaccine for COVID-19

It’s still in the planning stages and likely won’t be recruiting patients for at least a month, but researchers are hopeful that they might be able to find a helpful therapy for the disease — something that doesn’t yet exist.

The idea is simple, even crude, in this age of pharmaceuticals and precision medicine: “This is just blood from one person that’s got protective antibodies into someone else,” said study lead investigator Dr. Donald Arnold.

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Antibodies

When a person gets infected with a disease their immune system has never seen before, it takes a few days for their immune system to “get revved up,” said Dana Devine, chief scientist for Canadian Blood Services, one of the organizations involved in the upcoming study.

“What we’ve seen in this coronavirus epidemic is that people can get very high levels of virus in their system before their own immune system has had a chance to make antibodies to attack it,” she said.

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