Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that one of the White House coronavirus task force’s “top priorities” is developing a procedure to provide antibodies from recovered coronavirus patients to help people who fall ill from the virus, or even to protect them from getting it.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases, was asked about the use of antibodies during a CNN virtual town hall.
“Is it possible to develop some sort of treatment using the antibodies that they developed with the disease?” a woman asked the scientist.
“As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Fauci.
He said that the task force was “gearing up” to conduct a study on the use of convalescent serum. The process draws antibodies from the serum of recovered coronavirus patients, and reinfuses it into other patients, either to treat those with the ailment or as a protective measure.
“That’s one of our top priorities,” Fauci said.
Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor School of Medicine, has recently been urging the use of convalescent serum to help in the coronavirus fight.
The technique dates back to at least the 1890s, and was used during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
Hotez told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview earlier in March that convalescent serum could be provided either to patients who have strong symptoms from coronavirus, or to protect people at high-risk from infection or medical workers from catching the bug.
The use of antibodies is one of several options that researchers hope to use to fight coronavirus until a vaccine is developed. Hotez, Fauci and other experts in the field do not expect a vaccine to come along for at least another year.
Scientists are also conducting clinical trials to see if several anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to cure coronavirus. Two drugs that have inspired cautious optimism are chloroquine and its derivative, hydroxychloroquine. The drugs, which were developed to fight malaria, have shown promising results in lab trials, and in one clinical trial conducted in France.