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China treats severe swine flu patients with plasma harvested from recovered, vaccinated people

China has started treating severely infected swine flu patients with blood plasma donated by survivors - a therapy not yet proven to work but one that has shown potential to save lives.

In many parts of China, government-run blood collection stations have been harvesting plasma from people who have high levels of swine flu-fighting antibodies in their blood, because they recently recovered from or were vaccinated against the virus. The plasma is being stored in preparation for transfusions for severely or critically ill patients.

The treatment is based on the principle that transferring antibodies, the immune system's search-and-destroy force, can help a patient fight the virus and recover faster. Because the approach is still being evaluated for safety and effectiveness, the World Health Organization has not recommended it.

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