University of Virginia Medical Center

The University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.

A new clinical trial at the University of Virginia Medical Center is testing the plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19 to see if it could be a potential treatment for inpatients with the disease, the university announced Monday.

Plasma from recovered patients, also known as convalescent plasma, has antibodies that potentially could aid in treatment and will be provided by the American Red Cross. The trial is the university’s second that has looked into virus treatments.

Inpatients who have tested positive for the virus will have the opportunity to participate in the trial. UVa physicians will call patients who tested positive and are recovering from COVID-19 to ask if they would be screened by the Red Cross as a potential plasma donor. Other community members who have tested positive also are encouraged to contact the Red Cross to see if they are eligible to donate plasma. More information can be found at redcrossblood.org.

“Convalescent plasma has been used with success in other serious coronavirus infections such as SARS and MERS, and even in the recent Ebola virus outbreak,” said Dr. Scott Heysell, an infectious disease specialist at UVa and one of the lead investigators for the trial. “This option may boost the body’s own ability to coordinate an effective immune response to clearing the virus and preventing severe COVID-19 disease.”

“I am pleased that we are exploring another avenue in a search for an effective treatment against COVID-19,” said Dr. Craig Kent, the university’s executive vice president for health affairs. “Clinical trials like this are a valuable part of the work accomplished at academic health systems.”

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