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Plasma donations from people recovering from COVID-19 needed for clinical trials

Scientists look at a test tube in a

Scientists look at a test tube in a Northwell health research lab. Stony Brook Medicine and Northwell's Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research are looking for plasma donations from recovering COVID-19 patients. Credit: Northwell Health

Long Islanders who are recovering from COVID-19 can sign up this week to donate their plasma for two local clinical trials that could help patients still struggling with the potentially deadly virus.

Both Stony Brook Medicine and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research are looking for plasma donations to be used in two separate studies.

Researchers are hoping convalescent plasma, which contains antibodies, can help stop infection in people who are battling the virus.

Volunteers must have previously tested positive for COVID-19 but currently be free of symptoms.

Feinstein, which handles research for the Northwell Health system, said it had joined a national network created by the Mayo Clinic. Potential donors are urged to use the portal

The clinical trial, expected to start in the coming days, will include injecting the plasma into select COVID-19 patients hospitalized at North Shore University Medical Center and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. It may expand to other facilities.

“Plasma therapy dates back to the 1890s and has had a historical impact on outbreaks of diseases like measles, mumps and influenza,” Dr. Craig Devoe, associate professor at the Feinstein Institutes and lead investigator of the clinical trial, said in a statement. “In this trial, we hope to garner the help from thousands of people who recovered from COVID-19 to see if their blood can play a useful role in combating this deadly virus.”

Stony Brook hopes to enroll up to 500 patients in a randomized, controlled study where 80% of the people will receive the convalescent plasma and 20% will receive standard plasma.

Potential donors should visit the website to fill out an online survey.

“Although we are incredibly optimistic and hopeful that we can save lives, we really don’t know if this is a safe and effective therapy for this specific virus,” said Dr. Elliott Bennett-Guerrero, vice chairman of clinical research, Department of Anesthesiology at Stony Brook University’s Renaissance School of Medicine, who is leading the study.

All patients receiving plasma in the clinical trial are hospitalized and about one-third are intubated and connected to a ventilator.

Bennett-Guerrero said transferring antibody-rich plasma to a COVID-19 positive patient in the first weeks of an infection may be important because the patient had not had time to develop high antibody levels on their own.