A new study undertaken in Hong Kong has given new hope to people struck down
by swine flu (the h1n1 virus).
The findings of a study undertaken in Hong Kong was published in the latest issue of
Clinical Infectious Diseases.
So, what was this all about? People who were severely ill with the virus, were given
the blood plasma of people who contracted the disease previously and had survived. The new patient
then has the antibodies that had developed in the blood of the survivor.
93 patients who were admitted to Hong Kong hospitals after they became seriously ill,
took part in a study. 20 patients were given the plasma, the others declined the
treatment, and were used as a control group.
44 of the 93 patients died. 20% of the group who received the plasma died, as opposed to
55% of the control group.
The viral load of the group that received the plasma also decreased sooner than that of the control
A great advantage of this treatment is that the virus cannot develop resistance to the
treatment. This method is now also being used to treat other conditions, e.g. certain
Swine flu is different from seasonal flu, in the sense that it can make previously healthy
young people severely ill, much more so than seasonal flu.
One of the reasons for death from this disease is an exagerated immune-reaction to the
h1n1 virus. This happens when certain substances are released in the body to mobilise
immune cells. If too much of these substances are released, it leads to an inflammatory
reaction that causes liquids in the body to accumulate in the lungs. The plasma treatment
is believed to also minimize this reaction in patients.