29-year-old COVID-19 patient treated with Israel's new ‘passive vaccine’

Hospital says young man is in serious but stable condition

Magen David Adom worker test kit as he arrives for a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), in Jerusalem on March 17, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Magen David Adom worker test kit as he arrives for a patient with symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus), in Jerusalem on March 17, 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
A 29-year-old haredi (ultra-Orthodox) coronavirus patient who is being treated at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Hospital has improved from serious to serious but stable condition, after receiving multiple doses of plasma over the weekend from a donor who recovered from coronavirus, a spokesperson for the hospital told The Jerusalem Post.
On Friday, “with the assistance of Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and his assistant, a suitable donor, a resident of Jerusalem, was found,” explained MDA director-general Eli Bin.
MDA brought her in an ambulance to its blood service center before Shabbat. A special team was waiting for her and transferred the plasma units to the laboratories to perform all required tests and prepare them for transfusion.
Then, with the approval of the Health Ministry, the blood units were delivered to Assuta and given to the patient.
The man is among the country’s youngest severe patients. He has several underlying medical conditions, and has been hospitalized at Assuta for around a week-and-a-half.
The first patient who recovered from coronavirus donated plasma on April 1, according to MDA deputy director-general of blood services Prof. Eilat Shinar. Since then, some six other patients have made donations and, in the last two days, plasma units were provided to three different hospitals.
A 60-year-old being treated at Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center in Be’er Ya’acov also recently received plasma and his situation has likewise slightly improved.
A spokesperson for MDA did not have information on the third recipient.
Shinar explained that the plasma is being used to create a “passive vaccine,” based on the assumption that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have developed special antivirus proteins or antibodies in their plasma, which could therefore help sick patients cope with the disease.
Passive immunization is when you are given those preformed antibodies. An active vaccine, in contrast, is when you are injected with a dead or weakened version of a virus that tricks your immune system into thinking that you’ve had the disease, and your immune system creates antibodies to protect you.
Currently, MDA is in the first phase of creating this vaccine, whereby the plasma is frozen and then delivered to hospitals across the country for patients to be treated by transfusion, Shinar said. In the second phase, the goal is to collect enough plasma to prepare antibody (immunoglobulin) concentrate with which patients will be treated later.
MDA has been collecting plasma for more than 30 years; thousands of volunteers donate every day. Plasma with antibodies was used to treat patients with SARS during the outbreak in 2002. In addition, Israel offered a similar treatment to patients with West Nile fever.
Before being able to donate plasma, a patient must wait 14 days from the time he or she was confirmed negative for coronavirus via two separate swab tests.
Last month, Shinar said, the FDA approved a similar protocol in the US.