Plasma from COVID-19 survivors may help patients fighting the virus

Apr 20, 2020, 1:53 PM

Experts have said that a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 could take up to a year or more to be available. According to the World Health Organization, there are dozens of vaccines in development worldwide, including the first coronavirus vaccine trial in the United States underway at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Laboratory.

Results for most clinical trials are not expected until June or July.

Meanwhile, antibodies from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may be able to help the patients who are still fighting the virus.

One local coronavirus survivor, Elizabeth Schneider, who was featured in an article from The New York Times, became the first plasma donor in a new study conducted at UW Medicine.

“This past Friday, I became the first person in the state of Washington to donate plasma, and the plasma will be used as what’s called convalescent therapies,” said Schneider, a 37-year-old bio engineer from Seattle. “They’re going to be testing it to see if I do indeed have the antibodies, and then they’re going to be studying the plasma, but also distributing it on to be used as a therapy.”

The antibodies could be given to a COVID-19 patient, which would help them fight off the infection.

The Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked the human trials in Western Washington. KIRO Radio’s Tracy Taylor reported that this trial is in a partnership with Bloodworks Northwest.

“I’ve been getting personal messages through Facebook from people all over the country who have loved ones who are fighting for their lives in the ICU because of this virus,” Schneider said. “And they’re asking me to donate plasma to help cure their loved one. And it’s just really heartbreaking to see.”

If antibodies are found in her plasma, the next step would be getting the plasma and antibodies to the patients in need. UW Medicine is in need of plasma donations from people who have had COVID-19 and since recovered.

If you qualify, you can be part of this trial by emailing or by calling Bloodworks Northwest at 206-520-4212.

“You can donate plasma once a week and it’s safe and healthy to do that,” Schneider said. “So once I’ve confirmed that … I do indeed have the antibodies, I will keep going back and donating once a week because as long as I have antibodies, I want to make sure that those antibodies get to people who need them and potentially save someone’s life.”

Tune in to KIRO Radio after every local newscast to hear updates from Tracy Taylor during “Coronavirus Medical Update: A Search for the Cure.

Listen to the daily COVID-19: Seattle podcast weekday evenings from 6 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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