New therapy tested on COVID-19 patients - FOX34 Lubbock

New therapy tested on COVID-19 patients

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

"My experience was extremely mild. It felt like, maybe a flu. I had a fever for 24 hours. That was about it," Lee Williams said, describing his COVID-19 symptoms.

He is hoping for a positive outcome from his experience with the virus.

On Thursday, he donated his plasma at Vitalant blood bank, in the hopes his immune system will give others a fighting chance.

"Whenever you get COVID-19 your body produces anti-bodies that can help fight that infection off," Brandon Baker, senior recruitment manager at Vitalant, said. 

Those anti-bodies can be contained in what's called "convalescent serum" or plasma from people who have recovered.

This new therapy injects the serum into patients, currently battling the virus.

"It's just kind of an extra boost to a patient's immune system," Baker said.

This method has been used in the past to treat Ebola, SARS and even patients of the 1918 flu pandemic.

"So the idea goes way back, and there is some success. there's no guarantees on this. We don't even know how well these antibodies will kill the virus or what quantities they need to be, but considering there are no other treatments, this is great opportunity to see if this will help," Dr. Steven Berk, Dean of Medicine at Texas Tech Health Science Center, said. 

UMC has already begun using the procedure on critically ill patients.

"Initial results are very positive. And it has shown that it has lessened symptoms and helped to shorten hospital stays," Baker said. 

As the number of recovered cases continues to grow, so will the need to replenish supply of antibodies for treatment.

Doctors are urging people who have beaten the virus to pay it forward.

"I feel like it's important to donate plasma, just to help other people. Hopefully others who have worse symptoms than me... to be able to live," Williams said.

The therapy is considered relatively safe, but is not a cure for the disease.

"What we'd like to do is vaccine an entire population. And then this will go away, like polio went away," Dr. Berk said.

Experts say it could be months before a vaccine is developed.

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