An experimental treatment for COVID-19 which uses blood plasma from people who have recovered from the virus could “save lives”, according to a patient that has undergone the therapy.
Graham Elliot, 68, from Peterborough, was hospitalised earlier this year after contracting coronavirus.
He told Sky News: “I was walking around in slow motion, and I wasn’t breathing very well.
“I think if I’d been left another day, I don’t think I would have been here.”
After being admitted to hospital, Mr Elliot agreed to be part of a groundbreaking trial that uses donor plasma and antibodies to strengthen the recipient’s own immune system.
The plasma is administered to the patient, via a cannula, in a process that takes about 20 minutes.
Mr Elliot continued: “About three days later I started to feel a lot better.
“I think (the antibodies) saved my life.
“And hopefully they’ll save other people’s lives as well.”
The NHS convalescent plasma trial is the biggest plasma trial in the world.
It relies on donations from people who have already recovered from COVID-19, in a process similar to giving blood.
So far 10,000 people have donated to the trial and plasma has been administered to around 150 patients.
More data is needed to prove its efficacy but a leading researcher told Sky News it has “exciting potential to treat COVID”.
Professor Mike Murphy, consultant haematologist at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We need to collect plasma from people who recovered from COVID-19 at least 28 days ago.
“We particularly want to collect from people who have high levels of antibodies and we’ve found from our testing that men have higher levels of antibodies than women, maybe because they have more severe symptoms from the disease.”
There is currently only one definite treatment for COVID-19 – an anti-inflammatory drug called Dexamethasone.
With warnings of a second wave of cases in the UK, particularly over the winter months, Professor Murphy said “there is an urgent need for other effective treatments”.
Researchers hope they can say whether convalescent plasma will be one of them by the end of 2020.