Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University in Beijing said a drug made with antibodies like the ones his team have found could be used more effectively than the current approaches, including what he called “borderline” treatment such as plasma.

Plasma contains antibodies but is restricted by blood type.

In early January, Zhang’s team and a group at the 3rd People’s Hospital in Shenzhen began analysing antibodies from blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies which showed what he described as a “strong” ability to bind with the virus’ proteins.

They then conducted another test to see if they could actually prevent the virus from entering cells, he told Reuters in an interview.