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Health industry looking into antibodies of those who recovered from COVID-19 to help fight the virus

"It came back I did have the antibodies to fight the virus if I ever have it again."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While the effort to find those who are carrying the COVID-19 virus at area-testing sites, the health care industry is trying to see if the antibodies from those who have recovered from the virus can help those who are seriously ill.

The blood communities, the FDA and Biomedical Advanced Research have united to investigate using collected convalescent plasma with the antibodies. The donors would be someone like Jacksonville City Councilman Sam Newby.

In March, Newby was stricken by the virus and hospitalized for five days.

"I am feeling fine now, but there were two times when I said I wasn't going to make it," he said.

Newby said during his illness he lost 19 pounds in two weeks. But after 14 days of isolation at home, he is doing well.

"I was tested this week and I am negative, my wife and I are virus-free," said Newby.'

He said he was also tested by JFRD for the antibodies.

"It came back I did have the antibodies to fight the virus if I ever have it again, he said.

On Your Side reached out to the city to see if JFRD is doing testing for the antibodies and its use. The city released this statement: 

We were recently introduced to this laboratory product to rapidly detect antibodies to COVID-19.  It is intended to compliment other testing.  All results along with the overall clinical presentation of the source patient are incorporated to determine a person's immune status relative to COVID-19.

We are evaluating this product to determine its value and role for possibly exposed and infected personnel.

There is no coordinated effort by the City Of Jacksonville and OneBlood to create a plasma donor pool

But if someone like Newby decides to donate, the blood communities will accept the donations.

This week, the FDA rolled out guidelines for what it is calling Investigational COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma since this type of therapy has not yet been approved by the agency.

Newby said he has not been asked to donate but he is ready to give his plasma.

This statement from the Red Cross points to guidelines in being a donor: 

(April 6, 2020) The U.S. blood community has joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in a national effort to support the collection and distribution of convalescent plasma, a potentially life-saving treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

While this coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, the U.S. blood community has a long history of working together to provide lifesaving blood products to patients during times of need. This new initiative is yet another example of this collaborative spirit. All blood centers are working in tandem to support this initiative and increase production in the coming days and weeks.

Individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and have fully recovered have developed antibodies to the virus; these antibodies may help patients seriously ill with COVID-19 in their recovery. To be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, individuals must meet all regular blood donor requirements, be completely symptom-free for at least 14 days, as well as meet additional qualifications.

Individuals who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have since experienced a full recovery should contact their local blood center to determine their eligibility. Hospitals and physicians should also contact their regular blood provider for more information