Hospitals across the US can begin using plasma to treat coronavirus patients following emergency protocols outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday.
Doctors hope that antibodies in survivors’ blood can be used to treat coronavirus patients who are in a critical condition.
Across the US there are now almost 55,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with at least 784 deaths.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York – and the state at the centre of the outbreak in the US – announced on Tuesday that trials of the practice would commence this week.
“There have been tests that show when a person is injected with the antibodies, that then stimulates and promotes their immune system against that disease”, he said.
Mr Cuomo, who described the treatment as showing “promise”, added that the treatment was being trialled on the most serious cases.
An acceleration of confirmed cases in New York State alone has resulted in 25,665 cases – almost 7 per cent of the world total. In addition, 210 have died in the state as of Tuesday.
According to an NBC News report, China began using blood plasma on coronavirus patients with signs that it could be an effective method to treat the disease.
The practice was also used to lessen the symptom and reduce hospitalisation during the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.
Dr. Arturo Casadevall, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health, told The Associated Press: “We won’t know until we do it, but the historical evidence is encouraging”.
Under the emergency measures introduced by the FDA, doctors must request permission to treat critically ill coronavirus patients on a case-by-case basis and will be reserved for those at risk of death.
The FDA statement added that whilst convalescent plasma have been proven effective in treating previous diseases, it’s use against coronavirus was still to be determined through clinical trials before being rolled-out across the US.