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Sharp Health News

Help find a new treatment for COVID-19

Aug. 30, 2021

Woman donating blood

Over the past 17 months, we’ve been told everyone must do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic. For some, that means wearing a face mask and receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. For others, that means going the extra mile and participating in a clinical trial related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

If you have a desire to help researchers, the San Diego Blood Bank has an opportunity for you. The local blood bank is partnering with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on a new research study involving plasma — the liquid portion of blood that contains vital antibodies and proteins — from donors who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The intent of the study is to test antibodies produced by COVID-19 vaccines found in the plasma of participants against new variants of the coronavirus as they emerge. Recognizing the importance of such research, Sharp HealthCare has agreed to help spread the word to potential study participants.

“Sharing news of the San Diego Blood Bank’s study is just one small way Sharp is helping to advance the science around COVID-19 therapies,” says DeAnn S. Cary, PhD, director of the Sharp Center for Research. “Since March of 2020, we have pivoted from much of our own research that we were doing in other areas of medicine and initiated more than 35 robust COVID-19 studies with thousands of participants to help expand knowledge and provide medical advancements to the San Diego community.”

Working together to advance science
Claudine Van Gonka, director of community relations and marketing for San Diego Blood Bank, sees Sharp’s help promoting the study as a natural progression of the partnership between the two organizations.

“For 15 years, Sharp HealthCare has hosted blood drives through the San Diego Blood Bank, collecting over 12,000 pints of blood at their facilities across the county as part of their Sharp Lends a Hand community outreach program,” she says. “While COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of 22 planned blood drives last year, Sharp was still able to host 47 blood drives and was named San Diego’s largest single donor of blood products to the San Diego Blood Bank in 2020.”

Van Gonka says the study is the latest in the blood bank’s community efforts to advance COVID-19 research. The blood bank also fostered relationships with local organizations for COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration, and all blood donations were tested for antibodies as part of the blood bank’s standard testing panel in order to qualify donations for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma is plasma that contains high levels of specific antibodies that might help fight infection.

“Throughout the pandemic, the blood bank has worked closely with the San Diego County Health and Human Services department, partnering on collecting and distributing COVID-19 convalescent plasma for hospital patients with the virus,” she says. “In fact, San Diego Blood Bank was one of the first blood banks in the country to collect and distribute COVID-19 convalescent plasma.”

How to participate
In order to take part in the San Diego Blood Bank COVID-19 vaccine antibody research study, potential participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Age 18 years or older
  • Never diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Received either
    o A second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the last 4 to 36 weeks
    OR
    o A single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the last 8 to 38 weeks
  • Must currently be eligible to donate plasma

To see if you are eligible to participate in the study, fill out the San Diego Blood Bank online form. If you qualify for the study, you will be contacted by a blood bank representative.
Learn more about the Sharp Center for Research.

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