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Microsoft's 'plasmabot' recruits recovered coronavirus patients to help find treatment

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As researchers test to see whether experimental plasma transfusions from recovered COVID-19 patients can help those who've contracted the coronavirus, Microsoft is launching a "plasmabot" to help make it easier for potential donors.

The Redmond, Wa.-based tech giant, which is part of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, is providing the technology behind the website and the bot itself to look for plasma donors.

"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 Alliance wrote in a statement. "These trials will determine if this therapy could treat patients who are at risk for serious complications from COVID-19."

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The Alliance consists of Microsoft, along with a number of pharmaceutical companies around the world and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is serving in an advisory role.

The bot, which is akin to an app, will ask a series of questions to users to see if they are able to donate plasma, including medications they are taking, allergies, medical conditions and previous surgeries.

"The goal of this screening is to make sure that the donation is safe for both the donor and the recipient of the final product," the Alliance added.

From there, users that are eligible will be directed to where they can make plasma donations, a process that is similar to donating blood. However, unlike blood donation, the plasma is separated and collected, while the red and white blood cells are put back into the donor's body. It usually takes less than an hour, the Alliance added.

CNBC was the first to report on the "plasmabot."

Microsoft and CEO Satya Nadella are also a part of President Trump's coronavirus task force for reopening the U.S. economy, with Trump specifically praising Nadella during the announcement last week.

There is no known cure for the coronavirus pandemic that has upended every facet of life, but a second study published earlier this month demonstrated that plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients injected into those who are seriously ill can help.

The new study, performed by doctors in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, gave infusions of 200 milliliters of convalescent plasma to 10 patients and found that their conditions improved.

The Wuhan-based study comes after a separate study performed by doctors in Shenzen, China, on five other patients who were deemed "critically ill." The experts found that giving them an experimental plasma transfusion that contained a "neutralizing antibody" helped in their recovery.

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Harnessing the blood plasma of recovered patients is known as “convalescent plasma” and was used in the fight against the SARs outbreak, according to a recently published article in the medical journal The Lancet.

A Houston-area hospital became the first hospital in the U.S. to transfuse blood plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient into one that is critically ill on March 29.

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New York state also recently announced it would fight the pandemic using the blood plasma of recovered patients. A Mount Sinai spokesperson recently told Fox News the hospital had initiated its convalescence plasma program on the evening of March 29.

Other hospitals around the country are also performing the experimental trial after getting clearance from the Food and Drug Administration.

As of Monday morning, more than 2.41 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, more than 759,000 of which are in the U.S., the most impacted country on the planet.

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