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Convalescent plasma: How some recovered COVID-19 patients are paying back their good fortune

May 29, 2020

COVID 19 people with masks

Recovered COVID-19 patients carry antibodies in their blood, which doctors hope can be useful in treating patients with active cases of the disease.

The concept is “convalescent plasma,” a time-honored healing art that has saved patients with diphtheria, measles and the Spanish flu going back to the late 19th century. Plasma is the colorless, liquid portion of the blood. In recovered COVID-19 patients, these plasma-based antibodies presumably provide a period of immunity and may also help recovery of actively infected patients.

Preliminary reports from China show positive results of the therapy, but by all accounts randomized clinical trials are still needed. Early data from the U.S. indicates convalescent plasma treatment is safe. More than 13,000 COVID-19 patients have received transfusions, according to a government-established program.

Non-clinical uses of recovered patients’ biospecimens

In addition to directly treating patients, blood products and other biospecimens from recovered    COVID-19 patients are valuable for many non-clinical applications, including:

Tests: The development of diagnostics to detect the presence and level of antibodies in a person’s blood. The presence of antibodies can signal a person has had the disease, will likely be immune for a time, and is safe to return to work.

In-depth knowledge: Helping researchers understand both the short-term and longer-term impact of a COVID-19 infection on immunity, also important for reopening society.

Precision prognosis: Discovering biomarkers that correlate with various outcomes, e.g., asymptomatic resolution vs. serious or deadly symptoms.

Equity: Data from COVID-19 patient samples could also shed light on factors driving demographic disparities in outcomes.

Our work, sample offerings, and services

iSpecimen is collecting COVID-19-related blood samples and other biospecimens for nonclinical uses like these. Some samples will go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have also introduced mobile phlebotomy service: In partnership with myOnsite HealthCare, we are bringing convenient, at-home sample collection to patients and donors interested in advancing research who would otherwise have limited ability to participate.

If you are on the front lines of COVID-19 research and require biospecimens and data from COVID-19 patients, please contact iSpecimen or view a selection of current COVID-19 samples online.

Sample donors wanted: seeking recovered patients to assist in pandemic fight

Since samples from recovered COVID-19 subjects are in high demand among researchers in pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, iSpecimen is actively recruiting recovered patients to participate in a variety of COVID-19 research projects. Patients who are interested in potentially donating samples should visit iSpecimen COVID-19 Donor Registration for more information.

It’s a good way to give back to the health care system. And as mentioned, you don’t have to leave home.