A blood drive in Jerusalem. (illustrative) (Lior Mizrahi/FLASH90) Lior Mizrahi/FLASH90
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Israeli doctors used plasma therapy to treat severely ill coronavirus patients, which showed “impressive results” in serious cases.

By Ezra Stone, United with Israel

Not long after the coronvirus crisis spiraled into a global health pandemic, the race was on to find a cure, vaccine, or effective treatment for the deadly virus.

While treatments such as remdesivir have entered clinical trials and may hold the key to treatment in the future, Israeli doctors used plasma treatments early on during the crisis.

Specifically, Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) collected blood plasma from patients who recovered from the coronavirus in hopes that the antibodies it contains could be injected into people battling the disease.

This approach was used at Ashdod’s Assuta Hospital, a facility where a total of 75 patients were treated in its corona ward over the course of the pandemic, including severely ill individuals. All but one of the patients recovered and was sent home, leading the hospital to close the ward at the beginning of May.

“We saw a response to plasma,” commented Dr. Debra Gershov West, Director of Emergency Department, speaking to ILTV. “We took plasma from patients who had recovered and used it on two of our sickest patients.”

Dr. West contrasted the positive results she observed using plasma therapy with the outcomes she saw with experimental treatments, such as plaquenil.

“We didn’t see a significant change in patients [using experimental treatments],” said West, adding that “it’s hard to tell because the numbers were small.”

“We saw quite an impressive response and impressive recovery,” West explained. “We don’t know whether it’s cause and effect again because the numbers are too small.”

Professor Eilat Shinar, Director of the MDA Blood Services Division, explained to The Algemeiner in April, “In biological systems, when we are exposed to viruses or bacteria, our immune system responds by producing proteins called antibodies. These proteins are found in the plasma of each of us after exposure to the coronavirus.”

Shinar described the procedure as follows, “The donor is connected to a machine that will only extract plasma without the other blood components, which we collect. The advantage is that you can take a much larger volume — almost half a liter of plasma.”

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