In late March 2020, New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) made headlines for becoming the first facility in the United States to start collecting blood from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat others with the disease. Ten months later, the Enterprise is still collecting samples known as COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) and distributing them to U.S. hospitals. However, the non-profit has some important updates regarding this initiative as well as their other pandemic response efforts and philanthropic needs.
What Is COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma?
You may be wondering what COVID-19 convalescent plasma is and how it works.
Convalescent plasma is plasma, or the liquid part of your blood, that comes from a patient who has recently recovered from an infectious disease. This substance contains proteins called antibodies that help the body fight different infections. CCP has antibodies that are specifically directed towards SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
When CCP is given to patients with COVID-19, these antibodies are available to that patient’s immune system and may help clear the virus faster. This treatment often helps the patient recover more quickly and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in hospitalized patients.
The transfer of antibodies from the CCP donor to the patient is known as “passive immunization.” While these antibodies only last a short time, passive immunization with CCP is the quickest way to provide specific help to COVID-19 patients and their immune systems.
NYBCe & COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma
NYBCe continues to collect CCP across its six blood centers. As of November 2020, the Enterprise has collected approximately 76,000 units and distributed 62,330 units for patient use. This CCP has been sent to other U.S. blood centers as well as 388 total hospitals.
NYBCe has seen positive outcomes for many of the patients who have received COVID-19 convalescent plasma, thus far. In October, for example, New York Post and WCBS-TV covered the incredible story of Scott Cohen, a CCP recipient, meeting Abigail Park, the donor who saved his life, outside NYBCe’s Center East Donor Center.
As COVID-19-related hospitalizations continue to skyrocket, the need for CCP has been increasing. If you have recovered from COVID-19, consider joining Abigail Park and others who have supported NYBCe’s fight against the pandemic by donating convalescent plasma.
NYBCe & COVID-19 Research
In addition to collecting CCP, NYBCe has also been involved in a variety of COVID-19-related research. The non-profit spearheaded the COVID-19 Research Repository (CRR), an initiative conceptualized thanks to the work of NYBCe President and CEO Dr. Christopher D. Hillyer and Dr. Larry Luchsinger. The CRR’s goal is to increase the non-profit’s CCP inventory as well as conduct COVID-19 disease and vaccine research.
As of December, the CRR includes:
- 4,500+ Convalescent Donor Plasma Samples
- 1,500+ Viable Convalescent Donor PBMC Samples
- 3,000+ Population Prevalence Serum Samples
- Convalescent Donor Symptom Survey Data
Earlier this year, in August 2020, NYBCe’s Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute announced the results of an independent study that showed the Clungene® SARS-CoV-2 Virus (COVID-19) IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette possesses a high degree of sensitivity and specificity for detecting COVID-specific antibodies. According to Dr. Luchsinger, this discovery is “…the first step in understanding individual immune response to COVID-19 and evaluating future risk for exposure.”
In November 2020, the Enterprise took a notable step in its COVID-19 vaccine research and development. NYBCe’s Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention, also known as Project ACHIEVE, joined the global call-to-action to test new vaccines that may prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2. Led by Dr. Hong Van Tieu and supported by co-investigator Dr. Jorge Soler, site coordinator Sauda Muhammad, community engagement and recruitment manager Rashaad Bank, Project ACHIEVE aims to not only develop an efficacious vaccine but also educate communities on the importance of licensed vaccines in order to enhance uptake and prevent future outbreaks.
Support NYBCe’s Fight Against COVID-19
As a non-profit, NYBCe requires financial support in order to continue collecting CCP and conducting valuable COVID-19 research. Additionally, NYBCe relies on philanthropy to conduct other groundbreaking research, continue its daily life-saving operations, and even provide professional education.
NYBCe cannot fully fulfill its mission without your help. Please consider making a financial contribution to NYBCe online now. You can also reach out to learn about their philanthropic needs — both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Thank you for your generous support.