Researchers seek Annapolis-area residents to participate in clinical trials that explore whether blood plasma donated by someone who previously had COVID-19 can treat those with a new case of the same infection.
The trial is recruiting participants who have been recently exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 but are not yet showing symptoms, as well as those who have just received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis but are not hospitalized.
While state and local health officials expect COVID-19 vaccines to proliferate by the summer, COVID-19 is still a danger to those who haven’t been vaccinated. Doctors and medical researchers are still pursuing treatments for the disease, which reached Anne Arundel County a year ago this week.
One such treatment is convalescent plasma, the liquid part of blood that, in patients who already caught and overcame COVID-19, contains antibodies that could fend off the disease in others.
Dr. Shmuel Shoham, a Johns Hopkins researcher, said antibody-rich plasma is a 100-year-old tool in the fight against different diseases that medicine doesn’t have antibiotics to treat. Shoham and partners across the country, including at the Anne Arundel Research Center in Annapolis, have found over the last year that the convalescent plasma has the potential to help people early on in their infection rather than at critical later stages, he said.
“For people who don’t respond well to vaccines, people who didn’t get the vaccine,” the pandemic is not going to be over, Shoham said, “and we still need treatments for those people.”
The ongoing studies seek volunteers who had close contact with a COVID-positive person within the last three days or someone who tested positive for COVID in the last five days. Half the selected volunteers will receive the plasma; the other half will receive a placebo. The study is double-blind, meaning neither the volunteers nor the researchers know who received treatment and who did not.
Participants will be paid for their time. Those selected will be given an appointment for a transfusion. During the appointment, participants will sit for an infusion through an IV over about an hour, Shoham said. Following the treatment, participants will sit for another half hour for monitoring.
To learn more or sign up for the study, go to covidplasmatrial.org or call 888-506-1199.