Microsoft is helping to fight COVID-19 with Plasma Bot, a self-screening tool that supports recovered coronavirus patients in donating plasma to global treatment efforts. The use of antibody-rich convalescent plasma dates back to the 1918 Spanish flu, and proved effective in the more recent SARS outbreak.
The bot, available via the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance website, asks a series of yes-or-no questions: Were you diagnosed with COVID-19? Have you been symptom-free for at least 28 days? Have you ever tested positive for HIV or Hepatitis B or C? Eligible participants are directed to the nearest collection centers based on their provided zip code.
“Like Microsoft did with the CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker bot and more than 1,300 other COVID-19 bots around the world, we’ve followed standard protocols to help guide individuals through the qualification and education process,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post. Recruitment will begin in the United States before expanding into Europe.
“We are … convinced that the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance has a real chance to save lives, at significant scale, and possibly much sooner than other approaches currently being developed,” according to Microsoft, which is dedicating its computing infrastructure as well as engineering and research personnel to support the cause: helping healthy COVID-19 survivors sign up to donate plasma.
The Plasma Bot and donor recruitment platform currently live on the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance website, though Microsoft plans to “maximize awareness” by sharing it through other web, social, and search channels.
“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,” Microsoft said. “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.”