Red Cross Move on Virus 'Completely Changes the Landscape'

Antibody test showing who's had COVID-19 could pinpoint potential plasma donors
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 10:10 AM CDT
Red Cross Plans to Offer Antibody Test for Donors
The American Red Cross plans to offer antibody tests for donors starting next week.   (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

The American Red Cross plans to begin offering antibody tests to potential donors who suspect they've recovered from the coronavirus, reports ABC News. The hope is that blood from people who've already recovered could be used to treat sick patients. Scientists don't know whether such blood actually helps, but studies are underway in the US and around the globe to find out. This concept of "convalescent plasma" isn't a new one and has been used in the treatment of epidemics for a century. This "completely changes the landscape," Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer at the American Red Cross, tells ABC. "Qualifying and getting the right donors into our centers to donate is one of the biggest hurdles in this endeavor."

As the studies continue, anecdotal reports of success continue to surface. In Pennsylvania, NBC Philadelphia reports that a 31-year-old woman who recovered from the coronavirus in March donated blood to two severely ill patients, and both recovered. One of the two people was Marisa Leuzzi's 63-year-old aunt. "The night before she got the plasma, doctors called us and said they're giving her about 12 hours to live," says Leuzzi. The FDA considers convalescent plasma to be an experimental treatment for COVID-19, and the Red Cross' Young acknowledges the uncertainty. It's like "building the plane as you're flying it," she says. The antibody tests are supposed to be available next week. (More American Red Cross stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.