Microsoft, while working with pharmaceutical companies, has developed COVID-19 “Plasma Bot” to help people recovering from the COVID-19 coronavirus donate their plasma for a treatment for the deadly disease.
The self-screening tool is supporting the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, a newly established group of biopharmaceutical companies that are looking to use people's naturally produced antibodies in plasma – the liquid part of blood – for a potential large-scale treatment for coronavirus COVID-19.
Using convalescent plasma, a component of blood, as a treatment is not a new idea. When a patient recovers from a disease, they produce antibodies to fight the presence of the antigen that caused that disease and those proteins remain in the blood for a few months.
“The sooner recovered COVID-19 patients donate convalescent plasma, the sooner the alliance may be able to start manufacturing a potential therapy and begin clinical trials,” the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance posted in a blog. “These trials will determine if this therapy could help high-risk COVID-19 patients recover and whether it could protect high-risk individuals from the disease. Time is of the essence: we’re now in an especially important but small window of opportunity with a critical mass of people hitting peak immunity as they recover from COVID-19.”
The bot asks a series of questions to determine if they’re a candidate to donate plasma. The app provides information about the procedure and directs them to a nearby site where they can safely make the donation.
Donors must be free of symptoms for at least 28 days before donating plasma or be symptom-free for at least 14 days with evidence of a negative diagnostic test for COVID-19 after they recover.
Donor recruitment started in the U.S., and is expanding to Europe. According to Microsoft, more than half of the eligible US population live within 15 miles of one of 500 donation centers.