Plasma From Recovered COVID-19 Patient Used To Treat Genesis Patients With Virus - Genesis Health System

Published on April 16, 2020

Plasma From Recovered COVID-19 Patient Used To Treat Genesis Patients With Virus

DAVENPORT, Iowa – April 16, 2020 -- Genesis Health System, in collaboration with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, has initiated an investigational treatment with a century-old approach for two patients who are hospitalized with positive COVID-19 tests.

The treatment is called convalescent plasma and is being used for the first time in the region for COVID-19 patients. The plasma was collected from a donor by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. The donor had recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies to the virus in their blood. These antibodies can be collected in plasma donations from the recovered patients and transfused into hospitalized patients with the goal of helping those patients boost their ability to fight the disease.

The immediate goal is to determine if convalescent plasma can improve the chance of recovery for people with the most severe illness. A second goal is to test whether convalescent plasma can help keep people who are moderately sick from becoming sicker.

The collaboration between Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center and Genesis is part of a Mayo Clinic clinical trial.

"Convalescent plasma isn't new," said Genesis infectious disease specialist Bharat Motwani, M.D., the principal investigator for the trial at Genesis. "The method has been used in the past to treat a wide range of diseases such as polio, measles, SARS, Ebola, H1N1 flu and measles in previous outbreaks. However, what is new, is the COVID-19 pandemic, and this provides a tool for us to at least fight back to keep the virus at bay until a vaccine can be developed."

Louis Katz, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and Chief Medical Officer with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, expressed cautious optimism.

“This therapy is unproven. There are historic precedents that suggest modest efficacy in a number of other infectious diseases, including influenza. Plasma is used routinely in transfusion, where it has an excellent safety profile that we expect to be maintained with this product. Very preliminary data from China suggests that will be the case, but as yet there are no valid clinical outcome studies of convalescent plasma for COVID-19,” said Dr. Katz, adding, “We are hopeful.”

Dr. Motwani said he is also hopeful convalescent plasma for individuals with severe or life-threatening disease will demonstrate efficacy.

“Being at the forefront of this kind of trial and its potential for good is what keeps me excited about what I do,’’ Dr. Motwani said.

“Our teams have moved quickly to develop processes and protocol to provide convalescent plasma for the hospitals we serve,” said Mike Parejko, Chief Executive Officer at Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. “If we can help take a patient off a ventilator or get them out of the hospital, it will help patients return to good health and free up precious resources when they are needed most.”

"Fighting a global pandemic requires a global response. That response can begin at local levels,’’ Dr. Motwani added. “The use of convalescent plasma really speaks about the collaboration and being In This Together that is needed in a pandemic like COVID-19.

"We look to those whom have already recovered from the virus to donate. The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood center will administer those donations, and then provide the collected plasma to hospitals, whereby we can then treat our patients.

"For those who have had COVID-19 and recovered, this is the greatest way to give back.’’

Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, which was confirmed with a positive laboratory test, may be eligible to donate 28 days after complete resolution of their symptoms. They will need a note from their treating physician indicating the date of testing.

For individuals with a confirmed diagnosis but whose symptoms completely resolved between 14 and 28 days prior, a negative follow-up COVID-19 test will be needed before donation. For individuals who were diagnosed but did not get a confirmatory test, blood tests may be done to confirm their blood contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 before donation.

You can visit Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center at https://www.bloodcenter.org/hospitals/patient-services/convalescent-plasma/ for more information or reach out to patientservices@mvrbc.org or at (833) 610-1025.
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