But now doctors are hoping to turn Italy’s terrible suffering to its advantage.
The country is pinning its hopes on using the blood plasma of Covid-19 survivors to help those who are suffering most from it in hospitals now.
“Good can come out of this,” said Dr. Fausto Baldanti. “We had such a huge outbreak, [that] now we have many potential donors.”
People who recover from an infection, or who tested positive but never experienced symptoms, develop antibodies in their blood plasma. Those antibodies can be transfused into another victim, where they might help to neutralize the virus in the recipient’s body.
For decades, doctors have used plasma or even whole blood from recovered patients to treat the newly infected.
Baldanti is a virologist at the University of Pavia San Matteo Hospital in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, which has seen the most cases and deaths in the country. He hopes “this plasma treatment can be crucial for controlling the infection in patients admitted to intensive care units.”